ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s former ruler Pervez Musharraf became the first former army chief to appear in a national court on Tuesday in a treason case seen as a test of civilian rule over the country’s powerful army.
The 70-year-old arrived in a heavily protected cavalcade of at least half a dozen vehicles wearing a dark blazer and appearing relaxed during a hearing that lasted only a few minutes.
He sat in a witness box and stood briefly when addressed by the judge, but did not
speak. Asked afterwards how he was feeling, he told Agence France-Presse that he was “good.”
He faces treason charges, which can carry the death penalty, over his suspension of the constitution and imposition of a state of emergency in 2007 while he was president.
He was first ordered to appear before the tribunal on December 24, but has missed repeated hearings since then due to bomb scares and health problems that saw him complain of a heart ailment.
His defense lawyer Anwar Mansoor argued Tuesday that judge Faisal Arab had not responded to a challenge to the court’s ability to try the former general, which Arab promised to decide on Friday.
Musharraf has challenged the civilian court’s right to try a former army chief, saying he is entitled to be dealt with by a military tribunal.
He has also accused Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whom he ousted in a 1999 coup, of waging a “vendetta” and has asked for permission to go abroad for medical treatment, which has been refused.
“We can call him again after deciding on the jurisdiction issue,” judge Arab said after declaring that he intended to formally indict Musharraf.