Pakistani judge orders Musharraf held for 2 weeks

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 20, 2013 at 9:45 am •  Published: April 20, 2013
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ISLAMABAD (AP) — Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf on Saturday was ordered held for two weeks until the next hearing in a case related to his 2007 decision to sack and detain several judges.

After the judge's order, Islamabad's administration declared that Musharraf's lavish country residence could serve as a jail, meaning the ex-president could be held there under house arrest.

The development is the latest act in the drama surrounding Musharraf's return to Pakistan, which climaxed with his arrest Friday after a speedy escape from another court hearing.

The former general, who seized power in a coup and ruled Pakistan for nearly a decade, has seen his fortunes plummet since he returned in March after four years in self-imposed exile.

The arrest of such a prominent military figure in a country that has experienced three coups has unsettled Pakistan at a time when it is preparing for historic elections on May 11.

Saturday's order came at a hearing in an Islamabad court, where Musharraf was brought under heavy security as supporters and opponents gathered outside the court.

The judge ruled that he would be given judicial remand, which means that he would be held in custody until the next hearing on May 4. Musharraf's legal team had been pushing to get his estate on the edge of Islamabad declared a temporary jail under Pakistani law. The Islamabad chief commissioner later issued a notification declaring the residence a jail, said police official Mohammed Khalid.

After the court hearing, Musharraf was taken back to a police guesthouse where he had spent the night, and then was transported in the late afternoon to his private house on the outskirts of the capital.

Musharraf was arrested in the case that stems from his decision, while in power, to sack and detain the judges, including the country's chief justice, after declaring a state of emergency and suspending the constitution. At the time, Musharraf apparently was concerned that the judges would push back against his re-election as president. As a justification for the state of emergency he also cited the growing Taliban insurgency in the country's northwest.

But the move backfired horribly.

The country's lawyers took to the streets in widespread protests that eventually weakened Musharraf's government so much that he was forced to call new elections and step down.

A judge has said that Musharraf's 2007 decision amounted to terrorism, which is why the case is now being heard before an anti-terrorism court. Such courts are closed to the media and the public.

Musharraf returned to Pakistan to make a political comeback and contest the May 11 election. But he was greeted with little popular support and was disqualified from running in the election.

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