A Pakistani court on Thursday allowed the trial of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf for sacking and detaining dozens of judges in 2007 to be conducted at his farmhouse that has been declared a "sib-jail".
The Islamabad high court said anti-terrorism court Judge Kausar Abbas Zaidi could conduct 69-year-old Musharraf's trial at his farmhouse in the suburb of Chak Shahzad.
The court gave its ruling after its Registrar and Zaidi reviewed security arrangements at the farmhouse. The anti-terrorism court is hearing a case against Musharraf for detaining dozens of members of the superior judiciary after imposing emergency rule in 2007.
Islamabad had no anti-terrorism courts till recently and the court was created specifically for Musharraf's trial.
The chief commissioner of Islamabad had recently issued a notification for conducting Musharraf's trial at his farmhouse but it was later withdrawn after Zaidi raised concerns about his security. Zaidi also informed the Islamabad HC in writing about his security concerns.
Zaidi had sought the establishment of a courtroom within Musharraf’s farmhouse and a bulletproof vehicle for his personal use due to security concerns associated with the high-profile case. Reports said the administration of Islamabad had set up the courtroom and asked the cabinet division to provide a bulletproof car to the judge.
The anti-terrorism court is currently located in the congested district and sessions court complex in Islamabad. The administration of Islamabad recently recommended that Musharraf’s trial should be held at his farmhouse because he would be exposed to threats every time he was driven from his residence to the court complex in the heart of Islamabad.
The Pakistani Taliban have issued at least two videos in which they threatened to kill Musharraf for carrying out operations against militants during his rule. The anti-terrorism court has scheduled the next hearing of the case against Musharraf for June 6.
Prosecutors have so far submitted an interim ‘challan’ or chargesheet against Musharraf and a copy of this will be provided to the former president's lawyer, officials said. Musharraf was arrested soon after he returned to Pakistan from self-exile in late March to lead his party in the recent general election. He is facing charges over the 2007 assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto, the killing of Baloch nationalist leader Akbar Bugti in a 2006 military operation and the imposition of emergency in 2007.
A court has also barred Musharraf from contesting elections for the rest of his life. His All Pakistan Muslim League party has said Musharraf will remain in the country to face the charges against him.