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Pakistani judiciary overturns an absentia sentence for the execution of former President Pervez Musharraf

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS)

A Pakistani court on Monday overturned the death sentence in absentia against former President Pervez Musharraf, noting that the special court that convicted him of treason last year was unconstitutional, a prosecutor in charge of the case told AFP.

It was the first time that a former military ruler had been convicted of treason in Pakistan, where the military has broad influence and senior officers are immune from prosecution.

The ruling sparked controversy, and Musharraf described it as a “personal vendetta”, while the army expressed disappointment with the ruling.

A Supreme Court in the eastern city of Lahore announced Monday that the ruling against Musharraf was “illegal”.

“Submitting the complaint, forming the court, and choosing the prosecution team are illegal matters, and it has been declared illegal,” prosecutor Ishtiaq Khan, who is representing the government, told the court.

Khan added that Musharraf “has become a free man. Now there is no longer a ruling against him.”

The lawyer of the former general, Azhar Siddiq, told reporters before the Lahore court that the judiciary “canceled everything.”

With the approval of the Pakistani government, the prosecution can decide to prosecute the former president, who is still accused in other cases.

However, Sarob Ijaz, a prominent lawyer in Lahore but not related to the case, said that if the Supreme Court did not order the government to do so in its detailed ruling, he questioned the possibility of taking any new step.

He explained that the case was initially presented by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and not the current Imran Khan government, which “its political opinion is very clear, it does not want to pursue this issue. It took a very clear position after the decision of the Special Court.”

Khan is believed to be close to the army. Several members of his government condemned the ruling of the special court when it was announced last year.

– He smokes a cigar.

The trial of Musharraf for treason, which began in 2013 and is one of many charges against him, focused on his decision to suspend the constitution and impose a state of emergency in the country in 2007.

Musharraf is one of the most prominent figures in Pakistani political life and came to power after the overthrow of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a coup in October 1999, before he declared himself president in June 2001 and won in April 2002 in a controversial referendum.

The moderate general who smokes cigars and drinks whiskey has become an important ally of the United States in the context of its “war on terror” following the attacks of September 11, 2001. He survived three assassination attempts that al Qaeda had masterminded during his nine years in power.

His ruling did not face serious challenges until after he tried to dismiss the head of the Supreme Court in 2007, which sparked protests across the country and months of unrest that led to the imposition of the state of emergency.

Musharraf finally resigned in August 2008 after he faced measures to remove him from the new ruling coalition, and he left the country to live briefly in exile.

He returned to Pakistan in 2013 in an attempt to compete in the elections, but was prevented from participating in the elections and from leaving the country after the accumulation of legal cases against him.

His travel ban was lifted in 2016 and he went to Dubai to receive medical treatment, and he has remained there ever since.

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