Connect to share and comment

Pakistan court grants Musharraf bail in Bhutto murder

PlacardEnlarge
(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

A Pakistani court Monday granted bail to former military ruler Pervez Musharraf over the murder of Benazir Bhutto, an official said, but the retired general remains under house arrest.

Musharraf has been detained in his farmhouse on the edge of Islamabad since April 19 on charges of conspiracy to murder two-time prime minister Bhutto, who was assassinated in a gun and bomb attack in 2007 in Rawalpindi.

"General Musharraf's bail has been confirmed" by an anti-terrorism court in the garrison town of Rawalpindi, next to Islamabad, court official Mohammad Aslam Joya told AFP.

The bail does not mean his automatic release as he also faces legal cases over the sacking of judges when he imposed emergency rule in 2007, and the 2006 death of a Baluch rebel leader.

Judge Habibur Rehman has ordered Musharraf, who ruled Pakistan from 1999 to 2008 after seizing power in a coup, to pay two bonds worth one million rupees ($10,000) each, he added.

Musharraf's government blamed Bhutto's killing on Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud, who denied any involvement and was killed in a US drone attack in 2009.

The 69-year-old returned from exile in March to stand in last week's general election, vowing to "save" the country from militancy and economic collapse but he was barred from running over charges dating back to his time in power.

Taking the former chief of army staff into custody was an unprecedented move in a country ruled for more than half of its life by the military and was seen by many as a challenge to the armed forces' power.

Since Nawaz Sharif, ousted by Musharraf's coup in 1999, won the May 11 general election there has been speculation a deal would be reached to allow Musharraf to leave Pakistan without facing the courts.

But his lawyer Ahmed Raza Kasuri told AFP he would not flee.

"He will get free from all cases one by one. He has got bail in Benzair Bhutto murder case today and will get bail from other cases very soon," he said.

"He will stay in the country and won't go abroad. He will stay very much here. Rumours that he will go abroad before Nawaz Sharif takes charge of the prime minister office are false."

Prosecutor Chaudhry Azhar told AFP he opposed bail for Musharraf, saying there was a risk he would leave the country.

The main prosecutor in the case, Chaudhry Zulfiqar, was shot dead on his way to court on May 3.

ks-sz/pdw/ia

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130520/pakistan-court-grants-musharraf-bail-bhutto-murder