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Lawyers not allowed to meet Pervez Musharraf,despite SC order

Prison officials say lawyers can meet their client only if they got a 'NOC' from Punjab govt.

Written by PTI | Islamabad |
April 22, 2013 4:06:39 pm

Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf’s lawyers were not allowed to meet him today at his residence,which has been declared a sub-jail,despite an order issued by the Supreme Court.

Prison officials posted at Musharraf’s five-acre farmhouse at Chak Shahzad on the outskirts of Islamabad said the lawyers could meet their client only if they got a “no-objection certificate” from the Punjab government.

Officials of Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail,which comes under the Punjab government,are responsible for supervising the detention of 69-year-old Musharraf.

The Supreme Court’s Registrar called the prison officials and asked them to permit the lawyers to meet Musharraf but they were unable to see him.

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Ahmad Raza Kasuri,the head of Musharraf’s legal team,told the media outside the farmhouse: “If we can’t speak to our client,how will we fight the case? It is like going into war without weapons.”

Kasuri said the time granted by the Supreme Court for the meeting had ended and they would return to the court as a mark protest.

Earlier,a three-judge bench of the apex court headed by Justice Jawwad Khwaja began hearing five petitions seeking Musharraf’s trial on a charge of treason for imposing emergency rule in 2007 and detaining over 60 members of the superior judiciary.

During the hearing,Musharraf’s lawyers said they were not allowed to meet their client and thus could not receive fresh instructions from him on the case.

The bench then directed the lawyers to go to Musharraf’s farmhouse to meet him.

After being prevented from meeting Musharraf,Kasuri said his client might have reservations against the three-judge bench hearing the case.

“Earlier,we had asked for a full bench minus the Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. We appreciate the fact that the Chief Justice had graciously stepped down from the bench,” he said.

In a separate development,a private individual has approached a court to challenge the Islamabad administration’s decision to declare Musharraf’s farmhouse a sub-jail so that he can be detained there.

He asked the court to move the former President to Adiala Jail.

Musharraf,is the first former army chief to be arrested and produced in court.

He was detained after the Islamabad High Court revoked his bail in a case over the detention of judges during the 2007 emergency.

The former dictator returned to Pakistan after nearly four years of self-exile last month,promising to ‘save” the country from economic ruin and militancy.

However,he was barred from running in the May 11 general election,which should mark the first democratic transition of power in Pakistan’s history.

Musharraf faces several serious criminal cases.

Lawyers have petitioned the Supreme Court to put him on trial for treason for imposing emergency and he faces charges related to the 2007 assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto and over the death of Baloch leader Akbar Bugti in a 2006 military operation.

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