Facing treason charges,former Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf today appeared before an anti-terrorism court here which sent him to 14-day judicial custody but instead of jail he will be detained at his sprawling farmhouse which has been declared a sub-jail.
After spending a night in detention at the police headquarters,69-year-old Musharraf was produced before Judge Kausar Abbas Zaidi of the anti-terrorism court amid chaotic scenes with lawyers raising slogans against the former President and scuffling with his supporters.
A grim-looking Musharraf walked the short distance from his SUV to the court,surrounded by his bodyguards and dozens of security personnel.
He waved and saluted to his followers before entering the courtroom on the first floor of the building. No one was allowed to come close to him. Musharraf waved to his followers again as he left the court.
The Judge remanded him to judicial custody till May 4,a day after his arrest for treason for detaining over 60 judges after declaring emergency in 2007.
A three-member Supreme Court bench has also been constituted to hear petitions seeking directions for initiating high treason trial against Musharraf for subverting
the constitution and imposing emergency.
Zaidi briefly reserved his judgment before announcing his decision. He directed authorities to produce Musharraf in court again on May 4.
During the hearing held at the court complex in Sector F-8 in the heart of Islamabad,Musharraf’s lawyer Qamar Afzal told the judge that he was cooperating with police officials investigating the detention of judges during emergency.
Afzal opposed any move to remand Musharraf to police custody,citing security concerns.
He further said Musharraf could approach the Supreme Court to appeal against the revocation of his bail by the Islamabad High Court.
Ashraf Gujjar,the counsel for those who filed petitions against Musharraf,contended he should be remanded to police custody as a fresh investigation would have to be conducted against the former President regarding the imposition of emergency.
Musharraf’s five-acre palatial farmhouse with high walls,swimming pool and guard towers,was declared a sub-jail.
Meanwhile,Pakistan’s Supreme Court today constituted a three-member bench to hear petitions seeking directions for initiating high treason trial against Musharraf for subverting the Constitution and imposing emergency in 2007.
Justice Jawwad S Khawaja will head the bench that will include two other members,Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan,a Supreme Court statement said.
The bench will hear petitions in the case on Monday.
Earlier,Musharraf arrived at the court complex in a motorcade of about 14 vehicles shortly after 10 am. He had to wait in his white SUV in the parking lot for over half an hour as security forces pushed back a large number of lawyers who
had gathered to protest against the former army chief.
Meanwhile,an assistant jail superintendent and some policemen will be posted at Musharraf’s residence so that they can keep an eye on him and monitor his visitors,sources said.
Musharraf will not be allowed out of the farmhouse. Visitors will be allowed to see Musharraf at specified times and only after they have been vetted by prison officials,the sources said.
While being held at the farmhouse,Musharraf will be allowed to retain the bodyguards provided to him by the army,sources said.
Yesterday,Musharraf became the first former Pakistan Army chief to be arrested and presented before a judge. The arrest came a day after Musharraf fled from the Islamabad High Court when a judge revoked his bail and directed police to detain him for a case related to the sacking of judges during the emergency.
After being sent on transit remand by a judicial magistrate yesterday,Musharraf spent the night at the officers’ mess in the Islamabad Police headquarters. Under
Pakistani rules,a person on transit remand must be held at a police station.
As officials were concerned about Musharraf’s security,the police headquarters was declared a “temporary police station”.
A notification was specially issued for setting up of the anti-terrorism court in Islamabad as the federal capital does not have such courts. The nearest anti-terrorism courts are in Rawalpindi.
In a separate incident,early this morning,a 15-foot section of the wall around Musharraf’s farmhouse collapsed. A group of about 10 labourers were called in to immediately repair the wall.