Sharif Lawyer Says Hijacking Case is Politically Motivated
Former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif is being victimized in a "politically motivated" hijacking case, his defense lawyer told a court Tuesday.
"The motive of this whole case is politics in which Sharif has been charged with hijacking and terrorism because he lost the power struggle and General Pervez Musharraf succeeded," Azizullah Sheikh said.
Sheikh was arguing before a provincial high court, which is hearing Sharif's appeal against his conviction for hijacking and terrorism.
Sharif was convicted by an anti-terrorism court on April 6th of trying to stop a jet carrying the then-army chief General Musharraf and 198 passengers from landing in Pakistan on October 12, 1999.
The plane landed after the army took control of the Karachi airport and within hours Musharraf seized power and arrested Sharif.
"It is a malafide, politically motivated prosecution case. It is persecution and not prosecution," the defence lawer said.
On the day of the coup Musharraf deliberately delayed the landing of the commercial flight, which was carrying him and 198 other passengers from Sri Lanka, Sheikh said
"Musharraf committed an unlawful act by giving instructions to the pilot and causing delay in the landing, endangering the life of 198 passengers."
Sheikh said Musharraf "delayed the landing of the plane for about 48 minutes ensuring the success of the coup (on the ground)."
He said Sharif's order to divert the plane to Mushcat after landing at Nawabshah near Karachi was lawful.
The prosecution has also lodged an appeal seeking the death penalty for Sharif and reversal of the acquittal of six co-accused, including Sharif's brother Shahbaz.
The hearing will resume on Wednesday -- KARACHI (AFP)
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