In the line of trial

* Special court indicts former army chief for high treason * Musharraf pleads ‘not guilty’ * Court says only govt can remove his name from ECL

ISLAMABAD: Former military dictator Pervez Musharraf was indicted on Monday by the special court constituted for his high treason trial.
The court rejected the petitions of Musharraf’s lawyers through which he asked for permission to travel abroad to visit his ailing mother in Dubai and for his own medical checkup in the United States. It also did not exempt him from court appearance and observed that the authority to remove his name from the Exit Control List (ECL) did not rest with the court. Musharraf would move a related application today (Tuesday). 
During the hearing of the important case against Musharraf on Monday, the three-judge special court, headed by Justice Faisal Arab of the Sindh High Court, read out a five-point charge sheet against him, while Musharraf pleaded “not guilty” to all of them. Justice Tahira Safdar read out the charges. Musharraf, who has been absent from most of the hearings of the tribunal citing security threats and ill health, then turned to address the court after having asked its permission.
Musharraf said, “I honour this court and prosecution, I strongly believe in the rule of law. I do not have any ego problems, and I have appeared in court 16 times this year in Karachi, Islamabad and Rawalpindi.” The 70-year-old former general, who ruled the country from 1999 to 2008, said. “I am being called a traitor. I have been chief of army staff for nine years and I have served Pakistan Army for 45 years. I have fought two wars. Is it treason?”
The charge sheet’s main point was the imposition of November 3, 2007 emergency, as one of the charges against Musharraf which led to the violation of Article 6 of the Constitution. Other charges included the deposition of superior court judges and the suspension of fundamental rights. The charge sheet, which Musharraf signed following his appearance in the court, also referred to his oath-taking under the Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) as unconstitutional. 
The former dictator has pleaded his innocence and said he would stand his ground. The indictment took place after Musharraf’s arrival at the special court from the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC), where he has been residing for nearly three months. Barrister Farogh Naseem, who is now representing Musharraf, requested the court to allow his client to travel to Dubai to see his ailing mother. The lawyer said the constitution does not impose any restriction of movement on a citizen of Pakistan. 
Naseem said Musharraf had arrived in the court voluntarily, adding that the warrant against his client had not been executed. Moreover, Naseem said that his client was unwell and that his proper treatment was only possible in the United States. For nearly three months, Musharraf has been in the AFIC where he was taken apparently after developing a cardiac condition. In a dramatic move, the former military ruler had to rush to the AFIC on January 2 after he suffered chest pain while he was on his way to the special court. 
Initially, he was kept in the ICU but was later shifted to a room. Three different routes were designated for his commute to the special court on Monday. A police squad and commandos had reached the AFIC early in the morning to escort Musharraf to the court’s premises. 

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