March 28, 2014 10:03:07 am
The chief judge in Pervez Musharraf’s treason trial Thursday dramatically stormed out of the courtroom in “disgust” after repeatedly being accused of bias against the former Pakistani military dictator but later clarified that he was not recusing himself from the case.
It was widely reported that Justice Faisal Arab, the chief of the three-member bench conducting the treason trial against 70-year-old Musharraf, had recused himself from the hearing following an exchange of arguments with the former president’s counsel Anwar Mansoor.
However, the judge later clarified that he had only walked out of Thursday’s proceedings and was not dissociating himself from the case completely.
The special court conducting the treason trial issued an order in the afternoon, signed by Justice Arab, dismissing all applications by Musharraf’s lawyers and stating that the former president should be brought to court if he fails to present himself for the next hearing on March 31.
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“The conduct of Anwar Masoor Khan did not demonstrate the level of decency towards the court which is expected from a senior counsel. Disgusted by such an attitude, the court rose for the day,” the order issued said.
Earlier, Musharraf’s lawyer Ahmed Raza Kasuri told reporters outside the special court conducting the trial that the judge had disassociated himself from the case.
“Better late than never. I am glad that his (Justice Arab) conscience has finally risen,” Kasuri said, adding,
“Faisal Arab said he is distancing himself from the case. There are no shortage of judges in the country.”
Taking a step further, Kasuri had said the non-bailable arrest warrant against Musharraf did not stand any longer.
“The warrant does not stand. The court which issued the warrant no longer exists,” Kasuri said.
However, the special court ruled that its order for the government to arrest and produce Musharraf before it if he refused to appear on March 31 remained intact.
During Thursday’s hearing, Musharraf’s lawyers said Prosecutor Akram Sheikh should not be allowed to speak on the case until the court announces its decision regarding his appointment.
Justice Arab said the prosecutor will be allowed to speak in court. Musharraf’s advocates then said they were not happy with the court bench and that it was not neutral.
“The Special Court had already issued an order that this bench will try Musharraf and that decision should be respected,” Arab said.
Arab said if the lawyers think the bench was not neutral, he will separate himself from the bench.
He walked out of the courtroom after making the statements and was followed by the other members of the bench, Express News reported.
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