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Pakistan ex-president Musharraf charged with illegally detaining judges

[JURIST] Pakistani police on Tuesday filed charges against former president Pervez Musharraf [official profile; JURIST news archive] alleging that he illegally detained members of the judiciary after declaring emergency rule [proclamation, PDF] in November 2007. Sixty judges, including Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry [official profile; JURIST news archive], were forced to remain in their homes after refusing to swear an oath to uphold the Provisional Constitution Order [text] under which the country was run during the emergency rule. Police in Islamabad said that the house arrest order qualified as an illegal detention [LAT report], and that Musharraf, who is currently in London, could be arrested if he returns to Pakistan. Musharraf's lawyer Muhammed Ali Saif said that Pakistani law bars charges [Bloomberg report] against current and former presidents.

Earlier this week, a district court in Islamabad directed [JURIST report] police to open an investigation into the allegations. Last month, the Supreme Court of Pakistan [official website] declared [judgment, PDF] that Musharraf's declaration of emergency rule violated the Constitution of Pakistan [text]. Musharraf resigned from office [JURIST report] last August in order to avoid impeachment proceedings by the country's parliament. Earlier that month, the country's coalition government said that it would push to impeach Musharraf because he had given a "clear commitment" to step down from office after his party was defeated in parliamentary elections [JURIST reports]. In June 2008, former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif [JURIST news archive] called for Musharraf to be tried for treason [JURIST report], labeling him a traitor disloyal to Pakistan and saying he should be punished for the "damage" that he had done to the country in the years since he led a military coup [BBC backgrounder] and unseated Sharif in 1999.

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