Mush aide says he will not appear in court despite warrant

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Rezaul H Laskar

Islamabad, Feb 12 (PTI) Pervez Musharraf will notappear in court despite the arrest warrant issued today by ananti-terrorism court in connection with the Benazir Bhuttoassassination case, a close aide of the former military rulersaid today terming the move as an attempt to intimidate him.

"There is no possibility of him (Musharraf) appearingin court," Muhammad Ali Saif, the legal advisor for the formerPresident, told PTI hours after the warrant was issued by thecourt in Rawalpindi.

"They are trying to intimidate him. Let them find andarrest him," Saif said.

The court conducting the trial of suspects chargedwith abetting or facilitating the 2007 assassination of theformer premier issued the warrant after prosecutors told thejudge that Musharraf had failed to cooperate withinvestigators.

Musharraf was also directed to appear in the court atthe next hearing on February 19.

Legal experts said the court had the option ofproceeding against Musharraf if he failed to appear before thejudge at the next hearing.

They said that Musharraf had not been named as one ofthe "main accused" in the chargesheet and was wanted forquestioning.

"The court can conduct proceedings against Musharrafin absentia and it can also issue orders against him if thereis any evidence connecting him to the crime.

"If he chooses not to appear in court, he will do soat his own risk," said Mirza Aziz Akbar Baig, a formervice-chairman of the Pakistan Bar Council.

If any order is passed against Musharraf by the court,the government can resort to steps like seeking hisextradition, said Baig.

Saif, a lawyer who is also the secretary general ofMusharraf''s All Pakistan Muslim League party, contended thatthe court''s decision to issue a warrant was "politicallymotivated" as the former President had "no hand or role" inBhutto''s assassination in Rawalpindi in December 2007.

"The Federal Investigation Agency has been conductinga probe for three years and it suddenly decides that Musharrafwas involved.

"Even if it has decided to name him as an accused, itshould have completed certain formalities like recording hisstatement," he said.

"The action was taken unilaterally and he was named anaccused on simple accusations and hearsay," Saif said.

Saif contended that the anti-terrorism court had noteven considered whether the ''challan'' or charge-sheetsubmitted by the FIA met the requirements of law or waslegally tenable. .

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