Pakistani Court Packed Ahead of Sharif Appeal Decision
Supporters of ousted Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif packed into a courtroom here Monday to hear the results of appeals including one demanding his execution for hijacking and terrorism.
The court was due to announce its findings on three appeals relating to events on the night of the military coup in October 1999 when Sharif was toppled from power and arrested by General Pervez Musharraf.
Sharif was sentenced to life in April for trying to stop a jet carrying Musharraf, who he had just sacked as army chief, and 198 passengers from landing in Pakistan on October 12, 1999.
Dangerously low on fuel, the plane was forced to circle the runway until the army eventually took control of the Karachi airport and Musharraf seized power.
Sharif has appealed against his sentence, saying that as prime minister he had the authority to divert the plane. Six co-accused, including Sharif's brother Shahbaz, were acquitted.
The prosecution has also appealed the life imprisonment term handed down by the anti-terrorism court, saying the nature of the alleged crime warranted the death sentence. The state has also challenged the acquittals of the co-accused.
Sharif's wife, Kulsoom Nawaz, told reporters at the appeals court that she did not expect justice.
"I hope all will turn out for the best and I'm praying," she said.
"Under these circumstances I do not expect any fairness although our lawyers fought the case pretty well."
Sharif has bitterly complained that the military framed the charges and bullied the courts to remove him from the political scene.
Despite his conviction and another 14-year sentence for corruption in July, Sharif remains leader of the former ruling party, the Pakistan Muslim League -- KARACHI (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)