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Chaudhry says independent judiciary stood in the way of Musharraf election plans

[JURIST] Ousted Pakistani Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry [JURIST news archive] said in a statement reported by Pakistani media Monday that he and other Pakistan Supreme Court judges were removed by General Pervez Musharraf's declaration of emergency rule early this month because an independent judiciary would have prevented Musharraf from rigging upcoming elections. "Election manipulation is not possible under an independent judiciary", declared Chaudhry. The high court was already poised to issue a ruling on Musharraf's eligibility [JURIST report] to run for re-election as president in October while still holding the position of Army chief of staff, but the country was also looking ahead to parliamentary elections in the new year. Some media reports immediately following the emergency declaration claimed that an eligibility ruling against Musharraf had already been prepared but not released, although one Supreme Court justice has been quoted as saying that no verdict had as yet been reached. Musharraf has since promised to have elections held by January 9. Responding to comments by Musharraf [JURIST report] in a Sunday press conference saying he had been removed for corruption, Chaudhry countered "If there was any proof of corruption against me, why so many other judges of the superior judiciary have been removed through an unconstitutional act?"

Chaudhry is currently under virtual house arrest in Chief Justice House, his official residence in Islamabad. Other justices removed from the Supreme Court are also still confined. On Sunday, the Times of London reported that prior to the emergency declaration they and their families had been threatened with sexual blackmail [Times report] unless they ruled in favor of Musharraf in the re-election eligibility case. ANI has more. Dawn has additional coverage.

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