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Pakistan judicial council lifts restrictions on suspended chief justice

[JURIST] The Supreme Judicial Council of Pakistan [governing constitutional provisions] Friday removed all restrictions [order] on the liberty of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry [official profile], suspended for misconduct [JURIST report] last week by President Pervez Musharraf [official website; BBC profile]. Chaudhry appeared in front of the Council for an initial hearing [JURIST report] Tuesday and returned Friday to hear its ruling as hundreds of lawyers and political opponents of Musharraf rallied outside the Supreme Court building. Several were arrested when protesters clashed with police. Police also raided the offices of the private Geo TV station [Bloomberg report], whose coverage of the protests the government has sought to suppress.

Pakistani lawyers have boycotted the courts [JURIST report] since Chaudhry's suspension, and street protests by hundreds [JURIST report] have resulted in injuries and arrests. After assuming the position of chief justice in 2005, Chaudhry demonstrated willingness to investigate alleged government abuses involving the illegal detention of political activists. In ordering his suspension last week, Musharraf claimed to have received "numerous complaints and serious allegations for misconduct, misuse of authority and actions prejudicial to the dignity of office of the Chief Justice of Pakistan"; private media reports accused Chaudhry of nepotism. Reuters has more. BBC News has additional coverage.

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