Musharraf's lawyer, prosecutor squabble in court

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Musharraf's lawyer, prosecutor squabble
Islamabad, Jan 6: A war of words ensued today between Pervez Musharraf's lawyers and the prosecution at the special court conducting his treason trial after the prosecutor called the former Pakistani dictator a "fugitive" who was "hiding" in a military hospital.

During the hearing, prosecutor Akram Sheikh accused Musharraf of intentionally avoiding court hearings and called on the three-judge bench to issue an arrest warrant for him. However, the court rejected his demand.

The special court, formed by the government to try 70-year-old Musharraf on charges of high treason for imposing emergency in 2007, exempted him from appearing personally today but asked authorities to submit his medical records by 11.30 am tomorrow.

Musharraf's lawyer Ahmed Raza Kasuri, talking to media after the hearing, criticised Sheikh and said the case was not a trial of the former President but of the institution of the armed forces.

"The prosecutor described the AFIC (Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology) a hideout and called Musharraf a fugitive. This is an insult to the Pakistan Army," Kasuri said. He said Musharraf had served in the army for 40 years but is now being accused of "hiding in a military hospital". He added: "Is this justifiable?"

Sheikh rejected the notion forwarded by Kasuri and alleged that certain elements were trying to drag the military into the case. "This case is not against any institution but against a person who is trying to evade the law," he said.

Prosecutor Akram Sheikh accused Musharraf of intentionally avoiding court

Earlier in the court, the defence and prosecution teams clashed verbally, forcing the judges to intervene. Musharraf was admitted to the military hospital in Rawalpindi on January 2 after he had a "heart attack" while being taken to the special court. This is the first time in Pakistan's history that a general has been put on trial for treason.

If convicted, Musharraf could get life imprisonment or the death penalty. There is intense speculation that Musharraf is likely to be flown out of Pakistan for treatment. His detractors say the military is supporting him though there are few public signs of backing from the armed forces.


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