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Pakistan court rules treason trial against Musharraf will continue

On Monday, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) [official website] rejected claims by former president Pervez Musharraf [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and ruled the trial against Musharraf for treason will continue Tuesday, as previously scheduled. Musharraf was challenging [TheNews report] the legitimacy of the proceedings. The first challenge was directed at the court's jurisdiction. Musharraf claimed that since he took the actions in question as Army Chief, a military tribunal has proper jurisdiction. The second and third pleadings were directed at court appointments. Musharraf argued that the appointments of both the judges of the court and the prosecutor bringing the case were illegitimate. In addition to rejecting these pleadings, the court ruled [BBC report] it was unable to lift Musharraf from the "exit control list" (ECL). The charges relate to the death of radical cleric Abdul Rashid Ghazi who died during an operation ordered by Musharraf on Islamabad's Red Mosque, which left more than 100 dead. Prosecutors claim Musharraf had caused the deaths by recklessly deploying security forces, while Musharraf's lawyers argue that his involvement was limited.

Musharraf has faced a slew of legal troubles. Earlier this month he was granted bail [JURIST report] in a criminal case relating to the death of a radical cleric. In August the Pakistani interim government declined [JURIST report] to try Musharraf for treason because they claimed such action would be outside the scope of their duties. Also that month a Pakistani court officially charged [JURIST report] Musharraf with murder, conspiracy to commit murder and facilitation of murder in the 2007 death of Bhutto. In April a Pakistan court extended [JURIST report] Musharraf's bail on charges of illegally detaining judges. That same month, the Peshawar High Court of Pakistan both banned [JURIST report] Musharraf from running for public office for the rest of his life and extended his house arrest during the ongoing trial regarding the murder of Bhutto. In March Human Rights Watch urged [JURIST report] Pakistan to hold Musharraf accountable for alleged human rights abuses upon his return to the country. Msuharraf left Pakistan in 2008 to live in self-imposed exile in Dubai and London after he was defeated by Benazir Bhutto's party.

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