ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – A special court hearing treason charges against former Pakistani president and army chief Pervez Musharraf ordered the seizure of his assets on Tuesday after he failed to appear for a hearing in the capital Islamabad, media reported.
Musharraf in March left Pakistan for Dubai to seek medical treatment, shortly after the country’s top court lifted a ban on his travel.
He is facing trial on treason and other charges related to his seizure of power as army chief in 1999 in a coup, the murder of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007 and the killing of a prominent cleric in a military operation in Islamabad.
A three-member bench of the special court hearing the cases passed orders to freeze his bank accounts and confiscate his property after Musharraf failed to appear for a hearing, media reported. There had also been a similar order in 2011 relating to the Bhutto case.
Mazhar Alam Miankhel, chief justice of the Peshawar High Court, is presiding over the special court, which sits in Islamabad. He adjourned Tuesday’s proceedings until Musharraf is arrested or surrenders.
“According to law, the accused cannot (go on trial) in absentia,” Miankhel said, according to English daily Dawn newspaper.
Dawn reported Musharraf’s counsel argued the former president was in ill health and could not appear before the court in person.
Musharraf seized power in 1999 in a bloodless coup against then prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who returned to office in a democratic election in 2013. Musharraf stood down as president in 2008 when threatened with impeachment by civilian political leaders.
Musharraf returned to Pakistan in March 2013 after nearly four years of self-imposed exile to contest elections, despite the possibility of arrest and death threats from the Taliban.
Pakistan’s military has ruled the South Asian nation for about half of its 69-year history. It currently sets foreign and security policy even though Sharif’s civilian administration is in power.
(Writing by Asad Hashim; Editing by Drazen Jorgic)