Musharraf in anti-terrorism court

The Pakistani general who ruled the country for nearly a decade before being forced to step down is in an anti-terrorism court for a hearing.

Musharraf in anti-terrorism court

The Pakistani general who ruled the country for nearly a decade before being forced to step down is in an anti-terrorism court for a hearing.

Pervez Musharraf entered the court today surrounded by heavy security.

He was arrested the day before in a case related to his decision to sack and detain a number of judges in 2007 after declaring a state of emergency and suspending the constitution.

A judge has said that decision amounts to terrorism and the case has been sent to an anti-terrorism court.

Musharraf returned last month from four years in self-imposed exile to contest Pakistan’s May 11 election. But he was greeted with little popular support and was disqualified from running in the election.

A judge on Thursday ordered his arrest.

The hearing was to decide where he would be held while his case goes through the legal system.

Musharraf’s lawyer, Malik Qamar Afzal, said the judge ruled that he would be given judicial remand, which means that he would be held in jail until the next hearing in the case on May 4.

Musharraf’s legal team has been pushing for his estate on the edge of the capital to be declared a sub-jail under the Pakistani legal system, which would mean that he would essentially be held under house arrest.

Thursday’s arrest order sparked a dramatic escape by Musharraf from court in a speeding vehicle after which he holed up in his heavily guarded house on the outskirts of Islamabad until he was taken into custody Friday morning.

Musharraf seized control of Pakistan in a coup in 1999 when he was army chief and spent nearly a decade in power before being forced to step down in 2008. He returned despite Taliban death threats and a raft of legal challenges.

His arrest is a significant act in a country where senior army officers have long seemed untouchable. The army is still considered the most powerful institution in Pakistan, but its aura of impunity has declined in recent years, especially in the face of an activist judiciary.

When Musharraf entered the court today he was surrounded by a phalanx of police and paramilitary Rangers. Pakistani lawyers in their traditional black suits and white shirts chanted: “Whoever is a friend of Musharraf is a traitor”, while supporters shouted: “Love live Musharraf!”

“These allegations are politically motivated, and I will fight them in the trial court, where the truth will eventually prevail,” Musharraf said in a message posted on his Facebook page Friday after he was arrested.

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