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Suspended Pakistan chief justice calls for judicial independence

[JURIST] Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry [official profile] of the Supreme Court of Pakistan [official website], who was suspended [JURIST report] March 9 by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf [official profile] for alleged misconduct, told a crowd of 2,000 lawyers in Rawalpindi on Wednesday that judicial independence in Pakistan is under attack. Chaudhry said that judicial independence is guaranteed by the constitution of Pakistan, though he refused to comment on the specifics of the case against him. Chaudhry is accused of nepotism [JURIST report] in securing jobs and promotions for his sons, though Chaudhry supporters believe that the Musharraf government brought the charges to keep him from deciding issues related to upcoming presidential elections. Several judges and one of Pakistan's three deputy attorney generals [JURIST reports] resigned last week in protest over Chaudhry's suspension.

The Supreme Judicial Council [constitution text] of Pakistan is adjudicating the charges against Chaudhry. The government insisted on closed proceedings, though Chaudhry fought for public proceedings. Reuters has more.

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