Ailing Pakistan ex-ruler Musharraf will not appear in treason court: Lawyer

ISLAMABAD (AFP) - A lawyer representing Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf said on Sunday the retired general would not make a scheduled appearance at his treason trial on Monday because of an ongoing illness.

The 70-year-old was rushed to a military hospital on Thursday after developing what a police official called a "heart problem" while being taken to hear treason charges against him at a special tribunal in Islamabad.

Musharraf's team says the treason allegations, which relate to his imposition of emergency rule in November 2007, are politically motivated and his lawyers have challenged the authority of the three-judge tribunal.

"Everyone is aware of his sickness. The whole world knows that he is in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) and the court also knows that," lawyer Ahmed Raza Kasuri told AFP by telephone.

"We just have to make an oral request in the court that since he is not well, his presence should be dispensed with," Kasuri said.

The ex-dictator spent his fourth day in the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology in Rawalpindi, the garrison city bordering Islamabad, on Sunday.

The court had adjourned its proceedings Thursday and summoned Musharraf to appear on Monday, but Kasuri said he hoped it would now "exempt his personal presence".

"The court is not making a special concession to Musharraf. It is according to the law. Human life is over and above justice," Kasuri added.

Doctors treating Musharraf had sent his medical reports to experts in Britain, Kasuri told AFP on Saturday, to determine his further treatment at home or abroad.

The ex-dictator's sudden health scare was met with scepticism from some observers and feverish media speculation that his departure from Pakistan on medical grounds - possibly to either Saudi Arabia or the UAE - could be imminent.

Some analysts believe such a move is necessary to head off a potentially destabilising clash between the government and the all-powerful military.

Siddiq-ul-Farooq, a spokesman for the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Noon (PML-N) denied a deal was in the offing but added the government would follow the court's ruling.

"We neither wish to settle scores nor give any undue concession," he told AFP.

"No foreign pressure will be entertained: let the law take its course.

"If the court allows Musharraf to travel abroad for medical reasons then we will not try to stop it."

Aside from the treason allegations, Musharraf also faces trial over the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, the death of a rebel leader, a deadly raid on a radical mosque and the detention of judges.

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