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Pervez appears in court for first time

Islamabad, Feb. 18: Former Pakistani ruler Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday appeared before a special trial court in a treason case, becoming the first ex-army chief in the country's history to face a civilian court.

Musharraf, who has been admitted to Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC) in the garrison town of Rawalpindi neighbouring Islamabad for a heart ailment arrived in the court in a heavily protected motorcade of over a dozen vehicles.

Presiding judge of the three-member bench, Justice Faisal Arab wanted to indict Musharraf but deferred the matter after the former army chief's lawyer said the court would first have to decide the issue of jurisdiction.

Musharraf’s legal team, which has already described the treason charge against him as politically motivated, wants a ruling from the court whether it could hear a case against the former general who also happened to be the army chief.

His team believes that Musharraf can only be tried by a military court. Judge Arab announced he would first decided the matter on Friday and then call Musharraf sometime later.

Musharraf, who stayed in the court for a little over 10 minutes, looked upbeat and fresh. The former military ruler, who has been on bail in a series of cases including assassination of Benazir Bhutto in 2007, also accused

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of pursuing a vindictive policy against him.

Musharraf, who returned home in March last year after a self imposed exile of four years, came to power after toppling Nawaz Sharif's second government in October 1999 but resigned in August 2008 over fears of impeachment by Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslim League (N) which came to power after elections in February same year.

He was barred from contesting last year's parliamentary election from Islamabad, northern Chitral town and Kasur, a small town in central Punjab province because of his involvement in criminal cases.

 
 
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