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Lahore High Court annuls death sentence handed to Musharraf for charges of treason

Date of publication: 13 January, 2020

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The formation of a special court which handed the former general a death sentence was ruled to be "unconstitutional" in a case which caused public and political outrage in Pakistan.
A court in Pakistan on Monday annuled the death sentence handed down to former president Parves Musharraf by a special court, ruling its formation "unconstitutional".

"The Lahore High Court (LHC) has nullified the decision about Pervez Musharraf," Azhar Siddique, Musharraf's lawyer, told Reuters news agency. 

A special court sentenced Musharraf to death in absentia on charges of treason, concerning his suspension of the constitution and subsequent imposition of a state of emergency in 2007 to extend his tenure.

The former general - exiled in Dubai - branded the ruling a "vendetta". 

Pakistan's military stood alongside him, describing the "pain and anguish" the decision caused among its cadres.

Read more: Pakistan court sentences former military rules Musharaf to death for treason

No other military leader in Pakistan has ever faced such legal consequences for their actions.

In December last year, his legal team submitted an 86-page petition to the LHC, arguing that the verdict was replete with "a mix of anomalies and contradictory statements", as quoted by local media.

Yet it remains unclear whether Monday's ruling by the LHC will automatically nullify the death sentence.
 
According to BBC Urdu, the case, which began in 2013 and is one several involving Musharraf - could still be retried in another court.

Nonethless, government prosecutors in the eastern city of Lahore said that the formation of the special tribunal that delivered the sentence was "illegal", with one prosecutor adding that Gen. Musharraf was now a "free man".

"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 judgement has been set aside," Ishtiaq A. Khan told AFP

Musharraf siezed power in 1999, when he was a general and army chief, following a bloodless coup mounted against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in 1999. 

He became a key ally for the US, in its "war on terror", after the September 11 terror attacks in 2001, and escaped multiple assassination attempts. 

When in November 2007, Gen. Musharraf suspended the constitution and imposed emergency rule, mass protest ensued.

After the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in the following month, Pakistan's national morale collapsed futher.

In the face of impeachment proceedings, he resigned in August 2008 and went into exile. 

The treason trial against him was initiated by former rival Nawaz Sharif, upon the latter's election as prime minister.

It went on for years with numerous delays until last year's surpise announcment.

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