Justice Jawwad Skawaja [official website] of the Supreme Court of Pakistan ruled on Tuesday that the trial for former Pakistani president and military ruler Pervez Musharraf [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] will be postponed until April 15. While the decision was designed to give Musharraf's lawyers enough time to prepare a response to the allegations, the court rejected [Al Jazeera report] his plea to delay the trial until after the May 11 general election. The Pakistani Supreme Court ruled [text PDF; JURIST report] yesterday that Musharraf must remain in the country until he has responded to allegations of treason for his 1999 overthrow [BBC backgrounder] of the democratically-elected prime minister Nawaz Sharif [JURIST report] and his subsequent suspension [AP report] of the nation's constitution. Musharraf is also accused of being involved in the assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto [JURIST news archive]. Following a four year self-imposed exile, Musharraf returned to Pakistan in March to be a candidate in Pakistan's parliamentary elections.
Musharraf's return to Pakistan has been controversial. In March, Human Rights Watch urged [JURIST report] Pakistan to hold Musharraf accountable for alleged human rights abuses upon his return to the country. Last year, Pakistani authorities pledged to arrest [JURIST report] Musharrf for his alleged involvement in Bhutto's assassination. In August 2011, a court ordered seizure of his property [JURIST report] and froze his bank account after he failed to respond to multiple subpoenas regarding the assassination investigation. In February 2011, Pakistani authorities issued an arrest warrant for Musharraf but were unable to serve the warrant [JURIST report] because he was in London. The warrant was issued weeks after investigations revealed [JURIST report] that Musharraf had issued orders to the police officers accused of failing to protect Bhutto to remove security detail for her departure on the day of her assassination.