LAHORE -- A special court in Islamabad on Tuesday found former military ruler retired Gen Pervez Musharraf guilty of high treason and handed him a death sentence under Article 6 of the Constitution.
This is the first time in Pakistan's history that a military chief has been declared guilty of high treason and handed a death sentence. The verdict was split 2-1.
Article 6 of the Constitution says: 'Any person who abrogates or subverts or suspends or hold in abeyance, or attempts or conspires to abrogate or subvert or suspend or hold in abeyance the Constitution by use of force or show force or by any other unconstitutional means shall be guilty of high treason."
The punishment for high treason is death or lifetime imprisonment, according to the High Treason (Punishment) Act, 1973.
The three-member bench of the special court - headed by Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth and comprising Justice Nazar Akbar of the Sindh High Court (SHC) and Justice Shahid Karim of the LHC - announced the verdict in the long-drawn high treason case against Musharraf after hearing final arguments today. A detailed verdict will be issued in 48 hours.
The former military chief is currently in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. He was admitted to a hospital following deterioration of his health earlier this month. In a video statement from his hospital bed, he called the treason case "absolutely baseless'. 'I have served my country for 10 years. I have fought for my country. This [treason] is the case in which I have not been heard and I have been victimised,' he had stated.
His team can appeal today's verdict in the Supreme Court. If the top court upholds the special court's verdict, the president possesses the constitutional authority under Article 45 to pardon a death row defendant.
The high treason trial of the former military dictator for imposing the state of emergency on Nov 3, 2007, had been pending since December 2013. Musharraf came to power after ousting then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a 1999 bloodless coup. In an infamous purge in 2007, Musharraf imposed a state of emergency and placed several key judges under house arrest in Islamabad and elsewhere in Pakistan.
He was booked in the treason case in December 2013, when the PML-N government under Nawaz returned to power. Musharraf was indicted on March 31, 2014, and the prosecution had tabled the entire evidence before the special court in September the same year. However, due to...