Musharraf was charged for abrogating the constitution twice; by declaring martial law and imposing the state of emergency in November 2007.
A special court was formed by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in Dec. 2013 to try the military dictator for the high treason, which is punishable by death under Pakistani law. Musharraf was indicted in Mar. 2014.
The three-member court hearing the high treason case comprised Chief Justice of the Peshawar High Court (PHC) Waqar Ahmed Seth, Justice Nazar Akbar of the Sindh High Court (SHC) and Justice Shahid Karim of the Lahore High Court (LHC).
Two out of the three judges ruled in favor of the death penalty which was pronounced by Justice Waqar Seth, the Arab News reported. A detailed order will be issued in the next 48 hours.
“The judgment is announced in haste, and conviction of my client [Gen Musharraf] in absentia doesn’t have any legal foundation to stand on,” Barrister Salman Safdar, legal counsel of Musharraf, told Arab News.
He also termed the sentence as “unconstitutional and illegal” as what he said the case was “politically motivated” and was initiated without approval of the federal cabinet. “Proper legal procedure was not followed to initiate the case in the first place,” he said.
“The sentence will be overturned in appeal [against it in a superior court],” he said, adding that he has yet to consult Gen Musharraf as to when and where they would file appeal against the verdict.
Musharraf seized power in October 1999 by toppling the civilian government of the former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, in a bloodless coup. He remained in power till 2008.
Sharif had instituted a high treason case against Musharraf when he returned to power again in 2013 for subverting the constitution and imposing a state of emergency in November 2007.
The case has been pending since December 2013 facing multiple adjournments due to Musharraf’s inability to appear before the court.
The court earlier reserved its verdict in the high treason case on Nov. 19 and was expected to announce the ruling on Nov. 28.
Musharraf, 76, is living in Dubai in self-imposed exile where he availing treatment for multiple health issues.
He became Pakistan’s first army chief to be charged with treason, and being handed down a death penalty for abrogating the constitution. Musharraf has repeatedly dismissed the charge as “baseless and politically motivated.”
Earlier during the hearing, the government’s prosecutor advocate Ali Zia Bajwa submitted three petitions in the court for inclusion of three individuals namely former prime minister Shaukat Aziz, former Supreme Court chief justice Abdul Hameed Dogar and former law minister Zahid Hamid as suspects in the case.
“We want to make Musharraf’s facilitators and companions suspects as well. It is important that the trial of all suspects is held at the same time,” the prosecutor said, but the court rejected the plea.
“Submitting such a request after three and a half years means the government doesn’t have the right intentions,” said one of the judges in the bench, “Today the case was set for final arguments and now new petitions have been submitted.”
“If you want to further make anyone a suspect, submit a new case,” the judge said.
In a video message earlier this month from his hospital bed, Musharraf said he was being victimized in the case as even his right of audience was abolished by the court.
“I have fought wars for Pakistan and served my country for ten years,” Musharraf said while terming the case against him as “baseless.”