Judge briefly ‘quits’ treason trial over bias accusations

* Written order clarifies Justice Arab had just walked out from Thursday’s proceedings * Court upholds earlier decision of summoning Musharraf, failing which he faces arrest

ISLAMABAD: Justice Faisal Arab of the special court trying Pervez Musharraf for high treason briefly quit the trial on Thursday over accusations of bias by the defence team.
Justice Faisal Arab detached himself from the trial over objectionable remarks against him. The two other judges, Justice Tahira Safdar and Justice Yawar Ali Khan, also left the room after Justice Arab refused to hear the case. Justice Arab remarked “if someone thinks that we are demonstrating partiality then we too are not interested in hearing of the case”. During the hearing of application filed by the counsels for Musharraf, seeking correction in respect of defence counsel Anwar Mansoor’s statement in Supreme Court’s March, 14 orders, Mansoor said, while addressing Justice Faisal Arab, “We are not satisfied with the hearing of this case.”
He added, “ I did not say that Pervez Musharraf does not intend to come to court. I had said Musharraf could not appear in the court due to security concerns. The court also accepted security threats being faced by the accused. He was granted exemption after his plea for security threats was accepted. Issuance of non boilable arrest warrants is not matter of joke.” He said that the court changed the meaning of his arguments. “I had said if the accused is ready to appear in the court then non-bailable arrest warrants are not issued,” he added.
Justice Faisal Arab remarked “ if there is any objection over the court’s order then it can be rectified. “If you think the court is not neutral then we too don’t have any interest in the case.” He observed if the arguments are given like this then he will not be able to hear the case. “There is no shortage of judges in the country and I cannot hear the case further,” the judge announced. Talking to media men later, Anwar Mansoor said, “Recusing from the bench is a discretionary power of Justice Faisal Arab. We did nothing.”
Meanwhile, another counsel for Musharraf, Ahmad Raza Kasuri, said to media men that “rescuing of Justice Faisal Arab from the bench is not our success. We had given arguments that appearance of the accused in the court was not possible and non-bailable arrest warrants were issued upon it”. Meanwhile, the special court stated in its order that Justice Faisal Arab had not disassociated himself from the treason case against the former military ruler. According to the order, Justice Arab had not disassociated himself from the treason case, but had just walked out from the proceedings. “Justice Faisal Arab did not quit the bench but stopped court proceedings for today,” the verdict stated.
It was earlier reported that Justice Arab who heads the three-member bench had recused himself from the hearing after being repeatedly accused by defence attorney Anwar Mansoor of bias. The written order upheld an earlier decision summoning Musharraf on March 31, stating that failure to do so would result in the implementation of the non-bail able arrest warrant for Musharraf. The former military dictator will be indicted when he appears in court.
The special court also dismissed petitions filed against the non-bail able arrest warrants of Musharraf. Earlier, during proceedings of the case, Musharraf’s counsel Anwar Mansoor said the court had accepted that his client was facing security risks. The court also granted exemption to his client from appearance, he added. Continuing his arguments Mansoor further said that the court had issued non-bail able warrants for Musharraf. He said that the act of issuing the warrants is not a joke. He said that he is not satisfied with the way the case is being processed. The hearing of the case has been adjourned till March 31.

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