Fri, Nov 02, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Police officers sentenced for manhandling top judge


Pakistan's Supreme Court yesterday handed suspended jail sentences to Islamabad's former police chief and four other officers for "manhandling" the country's top judge.

The officers were found guilty of mistreating Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry as he went to court in March for a legal hearing following his suspension by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

Former Islamabad inspector general Chaudhry Iftikhar and another senior officer were each sentenced to 15 days imprisonment, while three other policemen were given sentences of one month in jail.

However the sentences were suspended for 15 days to give the police officials time to appeal the judgment following a request from their lawyer, the court said.

Judge Rana Bhagwandas, who headed the bench hearing the case, confirmed they had been found guilty of manhandling the chief justice.

The court also handed token punishments to Islamabad's former top two administrative officials, ordering that they be officially detained until the end of the hearing yesterday.

Musharraf's suspension of Chaudhry on March 9 sparked protests and there was particular outrage among lawyers at television footage showing police forcibly preventing the judge from walking from his house to court on March 13.

The judge was reinstated by the court in July after it overturned the misconduct charges laid by Musharraf and he has gone on to give a series of damaging rulings for the government.

During an earlier hearing in June the chief justice's lawyer, Aitzaz Ahsan, showed the court photographs of the incident, saying: "They grabbed him by the hair ... it looks as if his head is going under the guillotine."

The Supreme Court is expected to rule by the end of this week on the legality of Musharraf's victory in a controversial presidential election on Oct. 6.

Chaudhry is not sitting on the bench of judges for that case.

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