Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Plane Conspiracy Case Based on Tampered Record: SC Told

Nawaz’s lawyer claims statement by former Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) director general at odds with statements by other witnesses

By Masood Rehman

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court – hearing Nawaz Sharif’s appeal against his conviction in the plane hijacking conspiracy case – was told on Wednesday that the “original communication records” of the aircraft carrying former president Pervez Musharraf were not presented in the trial court.

A five-member larger bench of Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, Justice Nasirul Mulk, Justice Moosa Leghari, Justice Sheikh Hakim Ali and Justice Ghulam Rabbani presided over the proceedings on Wednesday.

Nawaz’s lawyer, Khawaja Haris, said the original record of plane conspiracy case had been tampered with – leading to a one-month delay in the registration of an FIR against Nawaz.

Haris claimed a statement by then Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) director general Aminullah Chaudhry was at odds with statements by other witnesses.

He claimed that Aminullah had recorded fabricated statements to “save his job”.

The statement recorded by Javed Iqbal, the then military secretary to Nawaz, mentioned that the army had taken over the Pakistan Television (PTV) building at 1745 hrs, following which “nothing was in control of Nawaz Sharif”, Haris added.

Haris claimed that since the prime minister had appointed a new army chief and after finding out about the movement of the army in disagreement with a decision, “Nawaz the competent authority to divert the plane from Karachi to Nawabshah in the larger interest of the country and to save the army from division”.

Haris read out statements by witnesses which revealed the Karachi airport was taken over by the army at 1830 hrs. At 1845 hrs, the airport control tower cleared the aircraft to land, but this was not done, he said.

He claimed the directions were “not coming from the prime minister at that time … someone else directing the pilot”. He said the prime minister did not order the closure of the airport.

He said the aircraft did not land for 15-20 minutes even after the clearance for landing, he said. He was still arguing when the court adjourned proceedings until today (Thursday).