[JURIST] A Pakistani judge on Thursday issued an arrest warrant for former president Pervez Musharraf [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] on charges of detaining judges during his time in office. With the arrest warrant, Judge Shaukat Siddiqui also canceled [Guardian report] the bail [JURIST report] that was granted to Musharraf last Friday. Despite the arrest order, Musharraf escaped the court premises to his home in the suburbs of Islamabad. Musharraf’s supporters argued that he was not safe in jail in light of his opponents who may try to attack him. His counsel also claimed that the court’s denial of bail constitutes bias and discrimination against their client. On the other hand, opponents and critics such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] condemned Musharraf’s actions for avoiding responsibility for his crimes. In addition to the current charges, Musharraf has also been named as a suspect in the assassination [JURIST report] of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive] in 2007. He is also wanted in connection with the murder of a Baluch tribal leader Nawab Akbar Bugti in 2007.
Last week the Pakistan Supreme Court delayed Musharraf’s treason hearing [JURIST report] until this week to give his lawyers enough time to prepare a response to the allegations. In March HRW 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] Musharraf 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 the former president 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.