News / Asia

Musharraf Trial Opens in Pakistan

Pakistan's former president and head of the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) political party Pervez Musharraf (C) is escorted by security officials as he leaves an anti-terrorism court in Islamabad, April 20, 2013.
Pakistan's former president and head of the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) political party Pervez Musharraf (C) is escorted by security officials as he leaves an anti-terrorism court in Islamabad, April 20, 2013.
Ayaz Gul
The trial of Pakistan’s former military leader, Pervez Musharraf, opened Tuesday, a week after an anti-terrorism court indicted him on charges of conspiring to murder Benazir Bhutto. The 70-year old retired general has pleaded not guilty. Independent legal experts say the case against Musharraf is flimsy.
 
Journalists are not allowed to cover the trial, which is taking place in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, where Bhutto, who twiced served as Pakistan's prime minister, was assassinated in December 2007.
 
She was killed in a gun-and-bomb attack while leaving a political campaign rally just weeks after returning to Pakistan from years in self-imposed exile. Authorities claimed at the time that Taliban militants were behind the attack.
 
Prosecutor Chaudhry Mohammad Azhar told reporters Tuesday that a policeman and four doctors were supposed to testify against Musharraf in the opening proceedings, but that the doctors could not attend for “personal reasons."
 
“The police constable was present in the house [courtroom]. He was examined and cross-examined by the defense and the justice. Now, the four doctors have been summoned for the next date, on September 3,” he said.
 
Musharraf did not attend the proceedings, which took place under tight security. The anti-terrorism court accepted a request from defense lawyers that the former military leader be exempted from personally appearing in the court because of threats to his life.
 
Musharraf ruled Pakistan for nearly a decade after he seized power in a military coup in 1999.  He survived two assassination attempts while in power, and Islamist extremists have vowed to kill him.

Respected lawyers believe the case against Musharraf lacks substance. Still, former acting Pakistani president and Supreme Court attorney Wasim Sajjad acknowledges the significance of the trial in a country that has experienced military rule for half of its 66-year history.  

“It is the first time that a former president and former army chief is being tried in a court of law,” he said.
 
Bhutto warned before her murder that Musharraf, who was ruling the country at the time, should be held responsible if she was assassinated. But Sajjad says the outcome of the court case will depend on whether the prosecution can present evidence establishing a direct link between Musharraf and the murder.
 
“He has been indicted on the charge that he is somehow involved in the murder of Benazir Bhutto," he said. "A lot will depend on what kind of evidence is produced to link him [Musharraf] with the offense, because on the face of it he [was] not directly concerned with the security of anybody as president or army chief."
 
A U.N. investigation into the Bhutto murder was unable to fix responsibility on individuals, and investigators suggested that a clear chain of evidence leading from the scene of the crime to the actual planners would be extremely difficult to determine.
 
Soon after he was elected Pakistan's prime minister in June, Nawaz Sharif declared that Musharraf should be tried for treason. He was referring to a case pending in the Supreme Court, in which the former president is accused of putting top judges under house arrest in 2007 when he declared a state of emergency in the country in violation of the constitution.

In Pakistan, the maximum penalty for treason is death.

You May Like

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid