|Tells TV channel he is determined to fight his case and that he is not scared to face the Supreme Judicial Council|
JUDICIARY IN THE DOCK: Lawyers protesting against the sacking of Pakistan Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary flock around him at the Supreme Court on Tuesday. Mr. Chaudhary has challenged a judicial panel considering complaints against him.
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's ousted Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary on Tuesday launched his battle against the Government in a dramatic style.
Due to appear in the Supreme Court at about 1 p.m. for his hearing before the Supreme Judicial Panel, Mr. Justice Chaudhary refused Government transport — his official cars were withdrawn after his removal on March 9 — and set off on foot with his wife.
Policemen stopped them as they tried to walk through the security cordon around his home. His jacket got torn in the scuffle. The policemen escorted him to the nearby State Guest House of the Balochistan province, where Mr. Justice Chaudhary was persuaded to go to the court in a car belonging to the former Prime Minister, Zafrullah Khan Jamali.
Law Minister Wasi Jaffar told journalists that Mr. Justice Chaudhary was prevented from walking to the Supreme Court as the security situation was precarious due to the recent suicide bomb incidents. "If something untoward happened, the Government would have been blamed."
Information Minister Muhammad Ali Durrani accused Mr. Justice Chaudhary of trying to enact a "political show and long march" on behalf of the Opposition.
There was more drama as Mr. Justice Chaudhary arrived at the gates of the Supreme Court. A large crowd of lawyers swarmed his car shouting "Long live Chief Justice Ifthikar Chaudhary" and "Release Chief Justice Ifthikar Chaudhary." In their enthusiasm, the lawyers broke the windscreen of the car.
The crowd, comprising several Opposition politicians, virtually pulled Mr. Justice Chaudhary out of the vehicle, mobbing him as he emerged.
It took the Chief Justice 45 minutes to cover the short distance between the gates and the court building, and he seemed to enjoy every moment.
He exchanged a few words with Qazi Hussein Ahmed, president of the Jamaat-e-Islami and leader of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal coalition. Mr. Ahmed said the Chief Justice told him that he came to the court not to obtain relief, but because he did not want to give the Supreme Judicial Council an opportunity to deliver an ex parte order against him.
Mr. Justice Chaudhary told a TV channel that he did not want to give the impression that he was scared of facing the panel, and that he was determined to fight his case.
Four prominent lawyers, including Supreme Court Bar Association president Munir Malik and Pakistan People's Party parliamentarian Aitzaz Ahsan, are acting as Mr. Justice Chaudhary's defence lawyers. They were reportedly allowed to attend the proceedings after a tense one-hour wait outside the courtroom.
When the Chief Justice emerged from the court at about 5 p.m., he refused to comment. On repeated prodding by journalists, he said: "My hands are clean."
The Government cut off live coverage of the scenes outside the court on two private television channels for about 30 minutes in the afternoon.
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