Musharraf cannot be arrested without govt consent: report

Musharraf and other unnamed persons accused in a recently registered FIR of placing over 60 judges under house arrest "could not be arrested because of constitutional and legal immunity", the Dawn newspaper quoted police officers as saying.

A police station in Islamabad has booked Musharraf for illegally detaining the judges after they failed to endorse the emergency he imposed in November 2007. The case was registered on the orders of a local court.

Musharraf is currently in Europe and earlier reports had suggested he could face arrest if he returned to the country.

Police are also not authorised to approach the affected judges and other accused to record their statements and investigate the matter because they are senior government officials, the police officers said.

These persons can be approached only through the heads of their respective departments.

Efforts will be made to record the judges' statements through registrars of superior courts but whether they would agree to this is another matter, the officers said.

Investigators have started collecting data, including orders issued during the judges' detention, names of the issuing authorities and officials who implemented them as well as names of officials who arranged materials like locks and barbed wire used at the homes of the detained judges.

Officials of the police force, Islamabad administration and the interior ministry played a role in detaining the judges.

The Superintendent of Police (City Division) and the Sub-Divisional Police Officer at the Secretariat police station are supervising the probe and the legal department of police is also involved.

However, lawyers have claimed that constitutional immunity only protected a serving President. After vacating the presidency, a person can be arrested and prosecuted, they claimed.

Government officials are immune if they perform their official duty legally but they can be arrested and prosecuted if they exceed their official capacity or misuse their authority, lawyers said.

Meanwhile, another media report said Islamabad Police will soon approach a magistrate to get an arrest warrant for Musharraf in connection with the case registered against him.

An investigating police officer told The News daily that in the first instance, police will be given 30 days to arrest Musharraf and can, during this time, paste a notice at his farmhouse on the outskirts of Islamabad to appear before them.

If Musharraf is not arrested within this time, police will again approach the magistrate and get the former President declared a "proclaimed offender" or a fugitive, the report said.

The official said police could then request the court to attach all moveable and immoveable properties of Musharraf under provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code. If the accused did not appear before police for two years, his properties could be auctioned, the officer said.

Red corner notices could also be issued by Interpol to arrest Musharraf and hand him over to the Pakistan government, the officer said.

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