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November 11, 1999
Sharief's supporters fear mock trial
The supporters of ousted Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharief today expressed fears that he might not get a fair trial if he is formally charged with hijacking and kidnapping.
The police said today a formal complaint had been filed against Sharief for his role in diverting a civilian plane carrying army General Pervez Musharraf just hours before the general overthrew Sharief in a bloodless coup on October 12. The complaint is the first step towards laying formal charges.
''There is increasing apprehension that it will be a mock trial and he will not be given a proper chance to defend himself,'' said Raja Zafarul Haq, religious affairs minister in the ousted government.
''So far he has not been provided with the rights that are universally and internationally provided to any person charged with such serious offences,'' said Haq, a senior member of Sharief's Pakistan Muslim League party.
Haq told Reuters television the military had not allowed Sharief to meet his lawyers, friends or family since the coup. The military says Sharief is being held under what it calls protective custody.
Haq said accusations that Sharief was behind a hijacking attempt or that he would endanger passengers' lives were false. ''I don't think he can be connected to any such thing, he was not this type of person,'' Haq added.
Haq said the party has already asked its legal committee to speed up efforts to contact Sharief to arrange a proper defence, and to challenge the coup in the supreme court.
The party said yesterday it would ask the court to restore the dismissed government and the suspended constitution.
Musharraf ousted Sharief's 31-month government, suspended the constitution and parliament and pledged political and economic reform but has not given a timeframe on when he would return the country to democracy.
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