Lahore High Court returns Musharraf's plea against his death sentence

Pervez Musharraf. Photo: Reuters

The Lahore High Court has returned Pakistan's former military dictator Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf's application challenging the death sentence handed to him by a special court in a high treason case, citing non-availability of the full bench due to winter vacations.

The registrar office of the Lahore High Court (LHC) returned Musharraf's application, which named the federal government and others as respondents, filed through his lawyer Azhar Siddique on Friday.

The 86 page-long petition sought constitution of a full bench of the court to quash the verdict of the three-member tribunal which sentenced the 76-year-old Musharraf to death in absentia for high treason following a six-year legal case on December 17.

The registrar of the court returned the application on Friday with observation that the full bench was not available due to winter vacations, the Dawn reported.

A three-member bench constituted by the LHC is set to hear on January 9 Musharraf's main application through which he has challenged all actions against him starting from complaint of high treason to establishment of the special trial court and its proceedings.

While returning the petition against the verdict of the tribunal, the registrar asked the petitioner to refile it in the first week of January, Musharraf's lawyer Siddique said.

Musharraf, in his petition, has asked the high court to set aside the special court's verdict, terming it illegal, without jurisdiction and unconstitutional.

The petition highlighted that the "judgement contained a mix of anomalies and contradictory statements". It said the special court "rapidly and hurriedly wrapped up the trial which was far from conclusion".

The petition stated that the special court "has not taken into consideration that no actions detrimental to national interest were taken by the applicant" as "no offence of high treason is made out from the evidence presented against him (Musharraf) before the special court".

Musharraf had earlier moved the LHC against the constitution of the special court.

He filed an application in the LHC, urging it to halt the special court from sentencing him in absentia.

Three days after he had filed the petition, Musharraf, who is currently in Dubai where he is seeking treatment for multiple diseases, was handed the death penalty by the special court in Islamabad after the three-member bench convicted him in the treason case.

Musharraf suspended the Constitution in 2007 and announced emergency which under Article 6 of the Constitution of Pakistan is an act of treason punishable with death.

He is the first military ruler to receive the capital punishment in Pakistan's history. His sentencing was highly significant in Pakistan where the powerful military has ruled the country for nearly half of its 72-year history.

The Army and the government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan have criticised the coutrt's judgment.

Musharraf came to power in 1999 by toppling the government of then prime minister Nawaz Sharif and ruled until 2008. He has 30 days to file appeal in the apex court.

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