Lal Masjid case: Court summons Musharraf on May 22

Former military dictator Pervez Musharraf was today summoned by a Pakistani court on May 22 in connection with a case related to the killing of Lal Masjid cleric Abdul Rasheed Ghazi in a 2007 military raid.

Islamabad: Former military dictator Pervez Musharraf was today summoned by a Pakistani court on May 22 in connection with a case related to the killing of Lal Masjid cleric Abdul Rasheed Ghazi in a 2007 military raid.

Additional district and sessions Judge Wajid Ali heard the case. Musharraf`s lawyers submitted an application requesting that the 70-year-old former president be exempted from attending today`s proceedings, citing security threats.

The court accepted the application and ordered Musharraf to appear at the next hearing on May 22.

During the hearing, an acquittal plea was also submitted in the court on behalf of the retired general.

Musharraf`s counsel Akhtar Shah presented the stance that the Lal Masjid operation was conducted on the directives of the then-administration.

He added that Deputy Commissioner Islamabad had written a letter to Triple One Brigade for conducting the operation.

Shah said it would be an injustice to hold Musharraf responsible for the operation.

The court issued notices to the concerned parties on Musharraf`s applications seeking permanent exemption from court proceedings and acquittal from murder charges.

The plaintiff Haroon Rashid`s lawyer, Tariq Asad, said Musharraf could be produced in court by making proper security arrangements.

He also suggested that Musharraf`s trial could be held in the High Court building. He added that Musharraf was also making his mother`s serious illness an excuse for escaping the trial.

Asad argued that Musharraf had been provided with more security than the President and the Prime Minister and added even the US President doesn`t get so much of security.

Radical cleric Ghazi died when the army stormed the controversial pro-Taliban Lal Masjid in the heart of Islamabad in 2007 to flush out militants holed up in the mosque. During the bloody eight-day siege, at least 58 Pakistani troops and seminary students were killed.

The operation, ordered by Musharraf, followed a week-long standoff between the mosque`s supporters and security forces.
Since Musharraf returned to Pakistan from self-exile in March last year, he has faced prosecution in four major cases, including one in which he has been indicted on high treason charges and another for his alleged involvement in the murder of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007.
Musharraf was indicted on March 31 in the treason trial for suspending, subverting and abrogating the Constitution, imposing an emergency in the country in November 2007 and detaining judges of the superior courts. Musharraf has rejected all the charges leveled against him.

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