By Ariba Shahid
KARACHI, Pakistan (Reuters) - Pakistan's government has said it will try in military courts suspects accused of attacking army installations in countrywide protests in the wake of the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan last week.
Here are some key facts about Pakistan's military courts, according to lawyers Reuters spoke to:
- Pakistan's Army Act of 1952 established military courts primarily to try members of the military or enemies of the state. Civilians can only be tried there under a federal government order.
- Civilians accused of offences such as waging war against the armed forces or law enforcement agencies, or attacking military installations or inciting mutiny, can be tried at military courts.
- Military courts operate under a separate system from the civilian legal system and are run by military officers. The judges are also military personnel and cases are tried at military installations.
- Trials are closed to outsiders, and no media presence is allowed.
- The courts have faced widespread criticism from within Pakistan and rights organisations globally because of their secretive nature and their existence alongside a functioning civilian legal system.
- Anyone tried under the Army Act has the right to defend themselves and a counsel of their choice.
- There is no right to appeal but individuals can challenge the question of jurisdiction in high courts and the Supreme Court.
- Military courts were most recently used to try Islamist militants waging an insurgency in Pakistan.
(Reporting by Ariba Shahid in Karachi; editing by John Stonestreet)