Pervez Musharraf remains in hospital, exempted from court appearance

Jan. 6, 2014 at 10:51 PM
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ISLAMABAD, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- Former Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf was exempted from appearing at a special court hearing his treason case due to his hospitalization.

The three-judge special court in Islamabad, however, ordered the retired general's medical records be submitted by Tuesday, the Express Tribune reported. Musharraf, 70, who had missed two previous court appearances because of security threats, was taken to a military hospital in nearby Rawalpindi last Thursday after he complained of chest pains, local media reports said.

His presence in the court is required for issuing the indictment against him, following which the court will begin the trial proceedings, the Tribune said. Earlier, the prosecution was quoted as saying arrest warrants should be issued against Musharraf since the accused cannot miss a hearing even on grounds of illness, the report said.

Musharraf's attorneys said he is unable to be present in court due to his illness.

The treason charge relates to Musharraf's suspension of the constitution and imposition of emergency rule in 2007. He held power until 2008 following a military coup in 1999.

Musharraf assumed power in 1999 after the coup that ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Sharif, however, has returned as prime minister for the third time after winning elections last May.

If convicted on the treason charge, Musharraf could either face the death penalty or life imprisonment. He has dismissed the charge as politically motivated.

Musharraf has remained under house arrest on various charges since his return from exile in March.

The Washington Post said Musharraf's family wants him to be allowed to travel overseas for medical treatment. The family's request, however, is being interpreted by some as an effort by the powerful army to protect Musharraf and likely other former military officials from facing a public trial in a civilian court.

The Post said the Pakistani army has thus far not publicly commented on the prosecution of one of its former generals.

The report said there has not been any public statements about Musharraf's medical condition, further fueling speculation the developments may be part of a plan to move him out of the country.

Musharraf himself had earlier been quoted as saying the treason charge may be a vendetta against him by the Sharif government.

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