Islamabad: Pakistan`s Supreme Court on Wednesday set aside the death sentences given by a military court to two men who were convicted of involvement in a suicide attack on former President Pervez Musharraf in 2003.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, which heard a review petition filed by the two men, declared the death sentences given by a military appellate tribunal as null and void.
However, the bench said the two men would have to serve prison terms given to them by a field general court martial.
The two men, Rana Naveed and Amir Sohail, were initially convicted by the field general court martial for their role in the suicide attack on Musharraf`s convoy in Rawalpindi on December 25, 2003.
Naveed was given a life sentence while Sohail got a 20-year prison term. The military appellate tribunal subsequently converted the prison terms into death sentences.
The apex court had earlier reserved its verdict in the matter on February 28.
During the hearing, the bench raised questions about the procedures adopted by the military court in converting the prison terms to death sentences.
"It is against all principles of justice and fair trial to convert a life term into death penalty by an army court of appeal without informing the convicts and adhering to the relevant procedure laid down in the law," the Chief Justice had remarked at the last hearing.
The Defence Ministry`s lawyer told the apex court that the military`s records did not specify whether Naveed and Sohail were present when the appellate tribunal gave them the death sentence.
Naveed and Sohail were tried and convicted along with six others by the military court for their role in the suicide attack that killed 15 civilians.
The Supreme Court had initially refused to hear the petition filed by the two men, saying civilian courts were barred from deciding cases involving the army.
Subsequently, the bench said the apex court could examine whether due procedures of law were followed in the case.