Former Pakistani military ruler Musharraf faces treason trial

Dec. 30, 2013 at 1:00 AM
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ISLAMABAD, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Pakistan's former military ruler, Pervez Musharraf, scheduled for a treason trial this week, said the case against him smacked of a vendetta.

Speaking to foreign media reporters Sunday at his farmhouse outside Islamabad ahead of his Wednesday trial before a special court in the Pakistani capital, the retired general said the country's military is "extremely worried" about his prosecution and that "they are totally with me on this issue," the Wall Street Journal reported.

The treason charge stems from Musharraf's suspension of the constitution and imposition of emergency rule in Pakistan in 2007 during his rule. Musharraf, who has said the charges are politically motivated, held power from 1999 until 2008 following a coup that ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who returned as prime minister for the third time after winning elections last May.

Pakistan has been under various military rulers for nearly half its history since becoming independent in 1947. Musharraf's trial will be the first time a former military ruler will be tried for on a treason charge. If convicted, Musharraf could face the death penalty.

"When you're doing wrong against an army chief, you're causing disturbance with the military ranks," the Journal quoted Musharraf as saying. The 70-year-old general, who is under house arrest, also faces other serious charges.

His trial date was set after a previous hearing last week was postponed when he failed to show up following the discovery of explosive materials on the road between his home and the court.

Musharraf claimed he has been treated unfairly since his return from exile in March,the New York Times reported. "After having done so much for the development and welfare of the people, is this what I deserve?" the U.S. newspaper quoted him as saying.

He said the "whole army is upset" and that it wouldn't "like anything happening to their ex-army chief."

Musharraf called Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who retired recently as chief justice of Pakistan's Supreme Court, "an activist chief justice," the Times said. While in power, Musharraf had fired Chaudhry.

Musharraf said he wants to be a free man and "to go and come back as I please," adding he has not been convicted of anything.

The Washington Post quoted him as saying he had only acted as a patriot. On his 2007 declaration of emergency rule, he said had acted with support from top civilian and military officials as it was needed to check the judiciary from interfering in his efforts to fight Islamist terrorism.

Musharraf resigned a year later following widespread protests against his rule and went into exile. He returned to Pakistan in March after he and his party decided to campaign in the May elections but was barred from doing so because of the various charges against him..

He declined to say if he would appear in court Wednesday.

Some Pakistani analysts told the Post they have noted current military leaders are not personally committed to Musharraf. However, other analysts said if the case goes on indefinitely, it could drag in other former officials, creating unrest in the military establishment.

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