Pak seeks Commonwealth`s help in extraditing Musharraf from UK

Pakistan has sought the Commonwealth`s cooperation in extraditing ex-President Pervez Musharraf from Britain.

Islamabad: Pakistan has sought the Commonwealth`s cooperation in extraditing ex-President Pervez Musharraf from Britain after a court issued an arrest warrant for him in connection with the assassination of former premier
Benazir Bhutto.

Pakistan`s High Commission in London has written to Commonwealth Secretary General Kamlesh Sharma to put pressure on Britain`s Home Department to start criminal proceedings in British courts against Musharraf, The Express Tribune newspaper quoted unnamed sources as saying.

An additional complication is Britain`s obligations to humanitarian laws of the European Union, which abolished the death penalty within the grouping and prohibits extradition of suspects to countries where they are likely to face execution, the report said.

Pakistan has already sent a request to Britain`s Home Department for the extradition of Musharraf though legal experts believe the move is unlikely to receive a favourable response as there is no extradition treaty between the two

An anti-terrorism court conducting the trial of five suspects charged with involvement in the 2007 assassination of Bhutto issued an arrest warrant for Musharraf after investigators said he had failed to cooperate with them.

Musharraf has been living in self-exile in Britain since early 2009.

The British government has not yet responded to Pakistan`s request, said Azhar Chaudhry, a prosecutor with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). He said the British government did confirm that they had delivered the summons issued by the Rawalpindi-based anti-terrorism court.

Pakistani officials told the daily that Britain is bound by its obligations to the Commonwealth to coordinate with courts in other Commonwealth countries.

However, an unnamed legal expert said Britain`s Home Department will have to "obey the capital punishment laws of European countries".

He said: "They may fear that the Pakistani court will award a death sentence to Musharraf."

Musharraf`s spokesman Muhammad Ali Saif said Pakistan government`s attempts to extradite the former President were futile.

"Musharraf will never lend a hand to FIA team, especially (after) the way they had treated him," he said.

The FIA has reportedly decided to seek more time to produce Musharraf before the court. It will request the court to declare him an absconder at the next hearing of the case scheduled for March 26.


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