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Pakistan lawyers renew protests against chief justice suspension

[JURIST] Some 3000 Pakistani lawyers and anti-government activists demonstrated outside the Supreme Court building in Islamabad Tuesday as suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry [official website; JURIST news archive] arrived for his sixth hearing before Pakistan's Supreme Judicial Council [governing constitutional provisions] on alleged judicial misconduct. Chaudhry was technically made "non-functional" [JURIST report] by a March 9 order of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf. No specifics were provided at the time of his suspension but documents subsequently disclosed [JURIST report] suggest he was officially removed on suspicion of misusing his influence to get his son jobs and promotions. Lawyers and opposition leaders critical of the move say, however, that the suspension was an assault on the independence of the country's judiciary and an indirect bid by Musharraf to continue his eight-year rule in an election year. The protesters Tuesday called for Musharraf to resign and burned a photograph of the Army leader, who seized power from a civilian government in a 1999 military coup.

Chaudhry has denied any wrongdoing and has called for the hearings on his case to be made public [JURIST report]. Many lawyers across Pakistan have boycotted the courts [JURIST report] in protest over Chaudhry's suspension and a number of senior judges have already resigned [JURIST report] over the controversy. Reuters has more.

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