Drag Musharraf's corpse to central square: Pak court

Last Updated : 20 December 2019, 05:04 IST
Last Updated : 20 December 2019, 05:04 IST

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Pervez Musharraf's corpse should be dragged to the central square in Islamabad and hanged for three days if the former military dictator dies before his execution, a special court in Pakistan which sentenced him to death said on Thursday in a bizarre judgement.

The three-member special court bench sentenced 76-year-old Musharraf to death in absentia on Tuesday for high treason following a six-year legal case.

In its 167-page detailed judgement authored by Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth, who headed the bench, the court on Thursday said the "convict be hanged by his neck till he dies on each count as per charge."

Justice Seth wrote that Musharraf should be hanged even if he dies before his execution.

"We direct the law enforcement agencies to strive their level best to apprehend the fugitive/convict and to ensure that the punishment is inflicted as per law and if found dead, his corpse be dragged to the D-Chowk, Islamabad, Pakistan and be hanged for 03 days," he wrote.

D-Chowk, or Democracy Chowk is close to several important government buildings - the Presidency, the Prime Minister's office, the Parliament, and the Supreme Court.

The verdict against Musharraf was split by 2-1 as Justice Shahid Karim of the Lahore High Court supported the death sentence while Justice Nazar Akbar of the Sindh High Court disagreed and wrote a dissenting note.

However, Justice Karim also disagreed with the dragging and hanging of Musharraf’s body after his death.

"I dissent with the President (...) it has no basis in law and will be ultra vires for this court to do so. In my opinion it is enough to sentence the accused to death," wrote Justice Karim.

The detailed judgement angered the army, which said the verdict was against all human, religious and civilizational values.

"The apprehensions about the short verdict given on Dec 17 have been proved right by the detailed judgment of today. The decision of today and especially the words used in it are against the humanity, religion, civilization and any other value," Military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor said.

He said Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Prime Minister Imran Khan had a detailed meeting on the conviction of Gen (retd.) Musharraf and took some important decisions which would be announced soon.

The detailed judgement came hours after Musharraf raised serious questions on his trial and said the verdict was based on some people's "personal animosity" towards him.

"Some people in high offices misused their authority to target one individual," he said, in an apparent reference to Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa.

Khosa, who is retiring on Friday, last month said that the post-2009 judiciary had convicted one prime minster (Yousuf Raza Gilani); disqualified another (Nawaz Sharif); and was soon going to decide the treason case against a former army chief (Musharraf).

"I call it (verdict) a suspicious judgment because it disregarded the principle of supremacy of law from the beginning. I'd rather say that if going by the Constitution, this case should not have been heard," Musharraf, who sounded weak and seriously ill, said in a video message recorded from his hospital bed in Dubai.

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

Justice Akbar in his 42-page dissenting note said that the act of Musharraf could be illegal, mala fide and unconstitutional but could not be treated as an act of treason.

"In the offence under Article 6 of the Constitution, the charging word is 'high treason', therefore, without properly appreciating what does it mean, this court cannot pass a just and fair verdict," he wrote.

The majority judgment, however, said that the military commanders who 'guarded, abetted' Musharraf should be held accountable and government should act against them.

The court also rejected the impression that the judgment was given in haste and Musharraf was not given a fair trial.

"It is patent by the act and conduct of the accused facing trial that he has persistently and stubbornly strived ever since the commencement of this trial, to delay, retract and in fact evade it. It has been his plea throughout that either on account of ill health or for security hazards he could not reach up to this Court to face trial," according to the judgement.

The court said that all those who facilitated Musharraf to go out of the county to escape the law should also be held accountable.

Musharraf 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.

Following his sentencing on Tuesday, the Pakistan Army reacted angrily and said that its former chief can "never be a traitor". The verdict against him has been received with "lot of pain and anguish" by Pakistan Armed Forces personnel, it added.

Gen Bajwa made a symbolic visit to the headquarters of the military's Special Services Group (SSG) on Wednesday where he praised their contributions towards defence of the country.

Musharraf served in the elite SSG from 1966-1972 and during the 1971 Pak-India war, he was a company commander of an SSG commando battalion.

He 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.

Published 19 December 2019, 15:19 IST

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