independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Bomb scare delays Musharraf trial

Police stand guard outside the home of former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf after a bomb scare (AP)

A bomb scare has delayed the first hearing in a high treason case against former Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf.

The case is the most serious legal challenge Mr Musharraf has faced since returning to the country in March in hopes of taking part in upcoming elections. But what followed - a ban on running for office, house arrest and a cascade of legal cases against him - marked a stunning turn in fortunes for a man once considered the most powerful person in Pakistan and a close Western ally.

A bomb and two pistols were found about half a mile from his home in the Islamabad suburbs.

His lawyer Anwar Mansoor Khan, told the court that he could not attend because of a "serious threat to his life." The chief judge said he understood that it requires "security" to reach the court and directed Mr Musharraf to appear on January 1 for another hearing.

The brief hearing in an auditorium at the National Library was expected to be largely procedural but the significance of having a former army chief appearing in front of a treason court would be enormous in a country where the military's power has rarely been challenged.

Security was increased and about a dozen paramilitary Rangers were stationed inside the auditorium where the three-judge panel was to hear the case.

The Pakistani Taliban threatened to kill Mr Musharraf after his return from abroad. He earned the enmity of militants in Pakistan for his support while in office for the war in Afghanistan and the military offensives he ordered in Pakistan's tribal areas as well as a raid on a mosque in Islamabad.

The high treason case stems from his 2007 decision to fire and detain some judges including the country's chief justice after declaring a state of emergency and suspending the constitution.

The move backfired as lawyers supporting the judges took to the streets in widespread protests that eventually weakened Musharraf's government so much that he was forced to call new elections and step down.

Musharraf has spent most of his time since returning to the country under house arrest. The former army commando spends his time exercising, swimming in his pool and visiting old friends.

-AP

Press Association

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