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Pakistan court's 'hang him in streets' rider to Musharraf death sentence sparks fury

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - The Pakistan government said on Thursday it was seeking to disbar the leader of a three-judge panel which ruled that the corpse of ex-military ruler Pervez Musharraf should hang for three days if the general dies before his execution.

The special court sentenced Musharraf, 76, to death on Tuesday after finding him guilty of high treason for subverting the constitution in 2007. He took power in a 1999 coup.

The court directed law enforcers to apprehend Musharraf, currently receiving medical treatment in Dubai, to ensure the death sentence is carried out.

But if found dead beforehand, “his corpse (should) be dragged to D-Chowk, Islamabad, Pakistan, and be hanged for three days”, it said.

The chowk, or square, is just outside parliament.

Thursday’s bizarre announcement came after the government said it had found “gaps and weaknesses” in the original sentence, apparently taking sides in a split between the military and the judiciary, and the general’s lawyers said Musharraf planned to appeal.

Legal experts termed the instructions unconstitutional, even if symbolic.

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Law Minister Farogh Naseem said the government was seeking to remove the leader of the three-judge panel. The judge, Waqar Ahmad Seth, had violated judicial conduct, he said.

“Our plea is that such a judge has got no authority to be a judge of any high court or the supreme court,” he said. “He is unfit.”

Escalating the tension with the judiciary, the army spokesman said the court announcement proved his assertion that the original sentence was flawed.

“Today’s decision, particularly the wording used in it, is beyond humanity, religion, civilisation or any values,” he told a news conference.

He said army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa had taken up the issue with Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The original sentence had already shocked the military, which has ruled Pakistan for about half the country’s history. The army accused the court of ignoring legal processes and defended Musharraf’s patriotism.

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Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan has said Musharraf wasn’t given a fair trial, taking the army line.

Tensions between the military and the judiciary rose after the Supreme Court struck down a three-year extension of service given by the government to army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Musharraf, who was tried and sentenced in absentia, said in Dubai the charges against him were politically motivated.

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Musharraf seized power in a coup in 1999 and later ruled as president.

In November 2007, Musharraf suspended the constitution and imposed emergency rule, prompting protests. He resigned in 2008 to avoid the threat of impeachment.

When Nawaz Sharif, whom Musharraf deposed in 1999, was re-elected prime minister in 2013, he initiated a treason trial against Musharraf and in 2014 he was charged with high treason.

“This case was taken up only due to a personal vendetta by some people against me,” Musharraf said in a video statement from his hospital bed in Dubai.

Musharraf travelled to Dubai after a travel ban was lifted in 2016 and he has refused to appear before the court, despite multiple orders.

Reporting by Asif Shahzad, Writing by Rupam Jain, Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Nick Macfie