[JURIST] A court in Pakistan on Monday charged former president Pervez Musharraf [JURIST news archive] with high treason. If convicted, the former leader could face the death penalty. Musharraf pleaded not guilty [BBC report] to each of the charges against him, including unlawfully suspending the constitution, firing Pakistan’s chief justice and instituting emergency rule in 2007. Musharraf called the charges politically motivated, maintained that the country had prospered [CNN report] under his 2001-2008 rule and insisting that his declaring a state of emergency was not unconstitutional. A court order [JURIST report] regarding the framing of the formal high treason charges was made by a special court in Pakistan last week. The court on Monday also rejected Musharraf’s application to allow him to leave the country to visit his sick mother in Dubai despite being under house arrest. The court stated that the authority to remove him from the country’s exit control list lay with the government, not the court.
Musharraf has faced a variety of legal troubles since his return to Pakistan from self-imposed exile. Earlier this month a Pakistani court issued an arrest warrant [JURIST report] for the former president in the event that he fails to attend the next court hearing on March 31, also directing the government to ensure Musharraf’s safety when he travels to court. Also this month, Musharraf filed an appeal [JURIST report] to the Supreme Court challenging the decision not to allow Musharraf’s high treason charge to be tried in military court. He made his first appearance [JURIST report] in front of the court in February. He had sought to delay his appearance for medical reasons and requested his travel ban be lifted to go abroad to seek medical treatment, a request the court denied [JURIST report] on January 31, instead issuing a “bailable” arrest warrant. Earlier in January the court rejected JURIST report] Musharraf’s contention that he was too sick to attend proceedings scheduled for January 16 and ordered him to appear, though he ultimately did not do so. Also currently ongoing are proceedings related to Musharraf’s involvement in the 2007 Red Mosque killings and the death of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive]. Musharraf has also been charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder and facilitation of murder in the 2007 death of Bhutto. Musharraf was arrested in October for his role in the Red Mosque massacre after nearly six months of house arrest for the charges relating to the death of Bhutto, for which he was formally charged [JURIST reports] in August.