ISLAMABAD - In another twist in former President General (r) Pervez Musharraf’s treason trial saga, the Special Court Thursday rejected his medical report and issued another notice for his personal appearance next Thursday (January 16).
It is the third notice by the special court to former Chief of Army Staff for appearance. If Musharraf again failed to appear then the court ‘shall pass appropriate orders’, said the order passed by the 3-jugde special court. The court shall give decision on applicability of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPc) to the present proceedings today (Friday).
During the proceeding, the defence counsels read out certain parts of the medical report of Musharraf, but did not seek exemption from his appearance. The prosecution argued that Musharraf was well therefore he should be made to appear so that high treason charges could be read out to him.
The court said that Musharraf’s non-appearance even when he was not reported ill establishes disregard to court summons and “it is clear that the accused has failed to obey and comply with the orders of this court”. The court order stated: “The medical report does not suggest that the accused in his present state of health is unable to attend the court, nor any material was placed on record to justify his inability to appear.”
Earlier during the proceeding, lead defence counsel Sharifud Din Pirzada stated that the main ailment from which the accused is suffering is heart disorder and angiography has been advised. He contended that for undergoing such medical procedure it is quite possible that open heart surgery could be required and the accused would be within his rights to seek best possible treatment even if it means going abroad.
But lead Public Prosecutor Akram Sheikh contended that the former dictator was not confined to bed and he was not in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). He added that in the last five days, since the alleged heart attack, no angiography of Musharraf has been done and it could not be done without the consent of the person. “The report is inconclusive and there is no categorical opinion by the AFIC Registrar that the accused suffered a heart attack or that he is ailing to an extent that he is unable to appear before the court.”
The AFIC Registrar on January 7 submitted ex-COAS’ medical report, which described the 70-year-old former military strongman was suffering from calcium deposits in his coronary artery, mental stress, frozen shoulder, excess cholesterol in the bloodstream, prostrate enlargement, and spinal and bone pain.
The court observed that in the medical report it is stated that the accused reported discomfort in his chest and left arm. “This could have been taken to be a heart attack or an angina pain or any other kind of heart ailment, (but) the same turned out to be a false alarm as the medical report does not disclose that after examination by the doctors the discomfort in chest or left arm felt by the accused was due to any heart ailment.”
Akram Sheikh prayed the court to issue notice to the accused for appearance before the court so that high treason charges could be read out to him, adding after indictment any person authorised by the court could represent him. He said excess of calcium and the toothache are not the sufficient ground to prevent him from appearance before the court.
The prosecutor said that even those over 60 years of age who are present in the court have these problems. He argued that according to report Musharraf’s blood pressure is 120/80 and the heartbeat is 53, which could be of a young man who comes out of the gymnasium. “There is nothing that prevents him from appearing for one hour,” Akram said.
Akram Sheikh stated that according to a media report on January 2, Rangers were deployed on the route to Musharraf farm to AFIC in the morning, which showed it was pre-planned diversion. He said that Musharraf is fine and receiving flower bouquets and meeting with his legal team. He urged the court to decide the matter in accordance with the settled principle. He said the cardiac ailment could be treated in Pakistan as AFIC and the Agha Khan Hospital have the best medical facilities and people from Middle East come here from treatment.
Musharraf’s condition was normal on the first, second and third hearings (December 24, 2013 and 1st & 2nd January 2014). Sharifud Din Pirzada, lead defence counsel, on January 2 had informed the court that his client would appear with delay therefore the court had adjourned the proceeding for half an hour. When the hearing resumed Islamabad Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Security Jan Muhammad informed the court, “He (former COAS) was on his way to this court but due to cardiac arrest, his convoy had been redirected to Armed Force Institute of Cardiology (AFIC).”
The defence counsel advanced the reason for non-appearance of Musharraf of 2-1-2014 was that he suffered from a heart attack on his way to the court and had no option but to head towards AFIC, but he did not file application for his exemption due to his ailment. The court on the last three hearing (January 6, 7 & 8) condoned the absence of Musharraf merely on the ground that he was hospitalised. This was done despite the fact that neither any application for exemption from appearance was filed nor even it was verbally requested on behalf of the accused.