Pakistan’s former military dictator Pervez Musharraf has today been sentenced to death by hanging.
Musharraf was found guilty of high treason and subverting the constitution by a special court in Islamabad, Pakistani officials said.
The charges against the 76-year-old, who can appeal the sentence, surround his controversial decision to declare a state of emergency in 2007.
Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 coup and ruled until 2008, is currently in Dubai after leaving Pakistan for treatment three years ago.
Sentenced to death: Pakistan’s former ruler Pervez Musharraf (pictured in Islamabad in 2013) faces the death penalty on charges of high treason and subverting the constitution
Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 coup and ruled until 2008, is currently in Dubai after leaving Pakistan for treatment three years ago. Doctors say he is suffering from amyloidosis, a rare condition which affects the body’s organs and tissues. He is pictured in hospital in March this year
The charges against the 76-year-old, who can appeal the sentence, surround his controversial decision to declare a state of emergency in 2007. Protesters are pictured during clashes with police at the time
‘Pervez Musharraf has been found guilty of Article 6 for violation of the constitution of Pakistan,’ government law officer Salman Nadeem said today.
The three-man court convicted Musharraf by a 2-1 verdict and ordered the death penalty by hanging, which is the only method of execution used in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s army has since expressed its ‘pain and anguish’ over the sentence.
‘The decision given by special court about General Pervez Musharraf retired has been received with lot of pain and anguish by rank and file of Pakistan armed forces,’ the statement said.
Musharraf can appeal the verdict in the Supreme Court. If that fails, he could plead for a pardon from current Pakistani president Arif Alvi.
In addition, he may be able to avoid the sentence by staying in the UAE which has no extradition treaty with Pakistan.
His lawyer Akhtar Shah said Musharraf was ‘still in Dubai and sick’ and would not return to Pakistan unless he was given ‘foolproof security’.
Musharraf’s doctors say he is suffering from amyloidosis, a rare condition which affects the body’s organs and tissues.
The case has been running since 2013, when he was charged with high treason for declaring a state of emergency and placing several senior judges under house arrest in 2007.
Musharraf portrayed it at the time as a necessary step to fight the growing Taliban insurgency in Pakistan.
However, his opponents said he had sacked the judges to stop them challenging his re-election as President earlier that year.
The ruling by a three-judge panel was not unanimous and one of the judges had opposed the death sentence, according to Akhtar Sheikh (pictured today), one of the lawyers for Gen Musharraf
Gen Musharraf, who was sentenced in absentia at a court (pictured today) in Islamabad, has been out of the country since 2016, when he was allowed to leave on bail to seek medical treatment abroad
Musharraf (pictured in 2004) was today found guilty of high treason and subverting the constitution by a special court in Islamabad, Pakistani officials said
Prosecutors accused Musharraf of failing to consult Pakistan’s prime minister and said the state of emergency was illegal.
The treason charge is one of a raft of court cases which Musharraf has faced since leaving office, including a murder charge of which he was acquitted in 2016.
Musharraf was also accused of involvement in the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who was gunned down in Rawalpindi in 2007.
At the time, his government blamed the assassination on then-Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud, who denied any involvement.
In 2017 Musharraf was declared a ‘fugitive’ in the Bhutto murder trial, which ended with charges against five alleged Taliban militants being dismissed.
Musharraf is the first senior military figure to face trial in a country where the armed forces are often considered untouchable.
Retired general Talat Masood, now a security analyst, called the court’s decision ‘extraordinary’.
‘That the courts would take such a bold decision or give a bold judgement shows that there is a major transformation that is taking place in Pakistan,’ he said.
The former army general seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999, a day after he had been sacked by prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
Connection? Musharraf (left) was accused of involvement in the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto (right), who was gunned down in Rawalpindi in 2007
He took the presidency in 2001, becoming a key US ally in the ‘war on terror’ and escaping at least three al-Qaeda assassination plots.
In 2007 he tried to sack Pakistan’s chief justice, sparking nationwide protests and months of turmoil which led to the state of emergency.
Pakistan’s national mood soured further after Bhutto’s death and Musharraf resigned in 2008 in the face of looming impeachment charges.
After leaving office, he lived in London before attempting a comeback in 2013 which was halted when a court barred him from that year’s Pakistani general election.
The same thing happened in 2018 when the Election Commission of Pakistan rejected his candidacy for a National Assembly seat.
In 2016 Pakistan’s supreme court allowed him to leave the country for Dubai to receive medical treatment.
He left his home for Karachi airport in a heavily guarded convoy in March that year and has not returned to Pakistan since.
Sharif, who was overthrown in the 1999 coup, later returned as PM and accused Musharraf of corruption. Sharif was ousted again in 2017 and convicted of corruption himself.