Pakistan’s ex-military ruler has Pervez Musharraf has been sentenced to death for treason and subverting the constitution.
The former president is living in exile in Dubai and was found guilty in his absence last month, after repeatedly claiming he was innocent. It is the first time in Pakistan’s history that a former army head has been sentenced to death – which can only be carried out legally in Pakistan by hanging.
His lawyers call the decision ‘politically motivated’ and ‘unconstitutional’ and say they plan to lodge an appeal. A special court was formed by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in December 2013 and charges were brought against Musharraf in March the following year.
The former army general, now 76, was put on trial for a state of emergency he declared in 2007 in which he ordered the detention of judges and politicians and suspended the country’s constitution. Musharraf, who seized control of the country in a military coup in 1999, was forced to resign in 2008 after being threatened with impeachment.
He fled to London, later returned to Pakistan and was allowed to travel to Dubai for ‘medical treatment’ in 2016 despite his trial being underway. But he ended up on the country’s list of most wanted people after failing to obey court orders to return.
Musharraf asked the High Court in Lahore to suspend the case until he was healthy enough to appear in person but it went ahead in his absence. Representing the former leader, barrister Salman Safdar said the defence was planning to appeal the sentence, which he called ‘politically motivated’ and ‘unconstitutional and illegal’.
He said: ‘The judgement is announced in haste, and conviction of my client in absentia doesn’t have any legal foundation to stand on.’
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