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LHC tosses verdict against Musharraf out of the window

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NP Newsroom/Agencies

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court in Pakistan has overturned the death sentence handed down to former president Parvez Musharraf by declaring the legal process unconstitutional.

Gen Musharraf had challenged the formation of special court which found him guilty of treason last December.

On Monday, the Lahore High Court sided with the exiled general, who seized power in a 1999 coup and was president from 2001 to 2008.

The decision meant Gen Musharraf was “a free man”, one prosecutor said.

“The filing of the complaint, the constitution of the court, the selection of the prosecution team are illegal, declared to be illegal… And at the end of the day the full judgment has been set aside,” the government prosecutor, Ishtiaq A. Khan, explained to news agency Agence France Presse (AFP).

He added there was “no judgment against him any longer”.

The indictment in 2014 was a highly significant moment in a country where the military has held sway for much of its independent history, with no other military leader ever facing such legal consequences for their actions.

When the verdict finally came in December, it was strongly opposed by both the military and the current government.

But the penalty was unlikely to be carried out. Gen Musharraf, who has always denied any wrongdoing, was allowed to leave Pakistan in 2016 on medical grounds and is in Dubai where he is receiving medical treatment.

The ruling against Gen Musharraf had said that if he died before he could be executed “his corpse (should) be dragged to D-Chowk, [outside parliament in] Islamabad, Pakistan, and be hanged for three days”. The government was appalled and sought to disbar the judge on the panel, whose ruling this was.

The impression in legal circles and the general public was that the ruling “wreaked of vengeance and vilification”, sparking outrage.

In November 2007, Gen Musharraf suspended the constitution and imposed emergency rule. He resigned in 2008 to avoid the threat of impeachment.

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