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Chaudhary seeks open hearing

Nirupama Subramanian

ISLAMABAD: On a day of high drama and deep embarrassment for President Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan Chief Justice Ifthikar Chaudhary, who was removed from office last week by Gen. Musharraf, was manhandled by police, but given hero's welcome by hundreds of lawyers and Opposition politicians as he arrived at the Supreme Court. He was appearing before a panel considering a presidential reference against him.

The Supreme Judicial Council, as the five-judge panel is called, adjourned the in camera hearing until Friday after Mr. Justice Chaudhary submitted an eight-page, handwritten objection questioning its composition.

Mr. Justice Chaudhary said his removal was unconstitutional. He and his family were being detained with their access to transport, telephones, and television cut off. He also demanded an open hearing.

Despite police barricades on all the roads leading to the Supreme Court, several hundred lawyers managed to gather outside the court building from the morning, chanting "Go Musharraf, go."

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