Pakistan finds fault with death sentence for Musharraf who plans to appeal

Supporters of Pervez Musharraf chant slogans after Pakistani court sentenced former military ruler Pervez Musharraf to death on charges of high treason and subverting the constitution, during a protest in Karachi, December 17, 2019. — Reuters pic
Supporters of Pervez Musharraf chant slogans after Pakistani court sentenced former military ruler Pervez Musharraf to death on charges of high treason and subverting the constitution, during a protest in Karachi, December 17, 2019. — Reuters pic

ISLAMABAD, Dec 19 — The Pakistan government has found fault with a special court’s death sentence for former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, apparently taking sides in a split between the military and the judiciary, and the general’s lawyers said he plans to appeal.

Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan said the government’s legal team had found “gaps and weaknesses” in the ruling after lawyers briefed Prime Minister Imran Khan about the case late on Wednesday.

Musharraf, 76, who was tried and sentenced in absentia, said in Dubai where he is receiving medical treatment that the charges against him were politically motivated.

An anti-terrorism court sentenced Musharraf to death on Tuesday after finding him guilty of high treason for subverting the constitution in 2007.

Musharraf’s lawyers said they will appeal against the sentence to the Supreme Court, which the government, the complainant in the treason case, is unlikely to oppose.

The verdict sent shudders through the military, which has ruled Pakistan for about half the country’s history. The army accused the court of ignoring legal processes and defended Musharraf’s patriotism. It said the ruling had caused “pain and anguish” in the ranks.

Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan has said Musharraf wasn’t given a fair trial, taking the army line in a standoff between the judiciary and the military.

Tensions arose after Supreme Court struck down a three-year extension in service given by the government to army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Musharraf seized power in a coup in 1999 and later ruled as president.

In November 2007, Musharraf suspended the constitution and imposed emergency rule, prompting protests. He resigned in 2008 to avoid the threat of impeachment.

When Nawaz Sharif, whom Musharraf deposed in 1999, was re-elected prime minister in 2013, he initiated a treason trial against Musharraf and in 2014 he was charged with high treason.

“This case was taken up only due to a personal vendetta by some people against me,” Musharraf said in a video statement from his hospital bed in Dubai.

Musharraf travelled to Dubai after a travel ban was lifted in 2016 and he has refused to appear before the court, despite multiple orders. — Reuters