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Manhandled Pak judge a hero

Islamabad, March 13: Hundreds of lawyers today gave suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry a hero’s welcome at the supreme court before a Supreme Judicial Council hearing over allegations that he had abused his authority.

Despite a heavy police and paramilitary presence, the road in front of the court swarmed with lawyers, politicians and rights activists. They remained there till Chaudhry was driven away after a two-hour hearing.

The protesting lawyers blocked the main gate and thronged Chaudhry’s car. They even climbed on to the roof of the car and damaged its windscreen.

Earlier today, Chaudhry and his family were roughed up by security men outside his Islamabad residence. The suspended chief justice refused to board the official car and said he would walk to the supreme court for the hearing.

However, the security personnel refused to let him to do so and, in the ensuing scuffle, they pushed Chaudhry, his wife and two daughters into the official car. Chaudhary had been confined to his home since Friday, with police blocking most access to him. The government, however, denies he is under house arrest.

At the hearing, Chaudhry questioned the composition and authority of the council and requested access to all documents that had been removed from his office by intelligence agencies.

“He stood his ground and insisted that he still is the chief justice,” senior lawyer Lateef Khosa told The Telegraph after the proceedings.

Chaudhry, he said, is determined to fight on because he believes he has done nothing wrong.

In November, 1997, former Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif were locked in a face-off after Shah had forced Sharif to appear before the apex court in a contempt case. A few days after the summons, there was an armed attack on the supreme court.

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