Pakistan’s former president Pervez Musharraf has been sentenced to death in a high treason case. The retired general was tried in absentia after leaving the country several years ago to undergo medical treatment.
The special court in Islamabad backed capital punishment in a split 2-1 vote. Musharraf, who held the power in Pakistan for a decade, was accused of subverting the Pakistani constitution to keep power.
The court announced its verdict on Tuesday after a weeks-long delay as the Pakistani government and Musharraf’s defense team made a last-ditch attempt to prolong the case, which was launched in 2013. The decision is subject to appeal.
Earlier Musharraf complained from a hospital bed in Dubai, where he’s been living in recent years, that his trial was unfair. The video has been broadcast by Pakistani media. He urged the court to take a statement from him at the hospital and confirm the state of his health.
Pervaiz Musharaf’s important message — recorded just now — he seems at a very very critical condition ! May Allah give him health pic.twitter.com/F5OqsFRWHS
— Kamran Shahid (@FrontlineKamran) December 3, 2019
Musharraf has been mostly living in exile since losing power in 2008. He returned to Pakistan in 2013 to take part in a general election, but was disqualified and put under house arrest on charges related to his decision to impose a state of emergency in 2007. The following year, he was allowed to leave the country again to seek medical treatment.
The former Pakistani leader says his prosecution is politically motivated and that his only goal was to serve Pakistan as a military commander and later as president. Two weeks ago, he was sent to a hospital in Dubai after reportedly suffering heart and blood pressure problems.
He remains a controversial figure in Pakistan. Critics say Musharraf undermined democracy when he staged a bloodless military coup in 1999 and concentrated too much power in his own hands. Public pressure stopped him from entrenching further in 2007, when he suspended the constitution for six weeks to seek re-election. Musharraf admitted he opened up the country to the CIA’s anti-terror drone operations, which have caused scores of civilian deaths, and have since been banned by Pakistan’s parliament.
Supporters view him as a defender of Pakistani interests, who stood up to Islamist militants, built up Pakistani nuclear deterrence vis-à-vis India, and improved women’s rights.
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