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News ID: 851
Asia » Asia
Publish Date: 14:39 - 20 April 2013
TEHRAN, YJC.-- A Pakistani anti-terrorism court on Saturday extended by two weeks the detention of the former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, ensuring that the legal wrangling surrounding the retired general will continue in the runup to landmark elections on May 11.
Following a hearing that lasted barely five minutes, the judge ordered that Mr. Musharraf be held in custody until May 4, during which time he is expected to face charges over his decision to sack senior judges while in power in 2007.

Officials said it has not yet been decided whether Mr. Musharraf will be held at his fortified villa on the edge of the capital, Islamabad, or in the police compound where he spent Friday night.

It was Mr. Musharraf’s fourth court appearance in 48 hours, highlighting the unprecedented nature of a case that challenges not only the retired general’s liberty, but also the sense of impunity that military rulers have long enjoyed in Pakistan.

Mr. Musharraf arrived at the courthouse surrounded by the police and paramilitary soldiers, reflecting the continued danger to his life from Taliban militants who have threatened to kill him. But the greatest hostility came from a crowd of jeering, black-suited lawyers who chanted insults and pushed against the security cordon.

As he emerged from the hearing, Mr. Musharraf saluted in his signature military style before being escorted back to police headquarters. Muhammad Amjad Chaudhry, a close Musharraf aide, said the former commando general was in good spirits despite his situation.

"His morale is high," Mr. Chaudhry told reporters. "He says he will face the courts. He regrets that he is being accused of acts he never committed,”

For now, Mr. Musharraf is being held in a police guest house. Saturday’s newspapers carried details of the relatively modest nature of his lodgings, which reportedly lacks air conditioning and a regular electricity supply. Some police officials told reporters that Mr. Musharraf had expressed dissatisfaction with the spartan facilities.

The detention is an ironic twist for Mr. Musharraf, who had hundreds of people, including senior judges, placed under house arrest in November 2007 after he declared emergency rule as his grip on power slipped.

That period still rankles members of Pakistan’s judiciary. Mr. Musharraf’s case was heard in an anti-terrorism court on Saturday because a judge earlier declared that his detention of senior judges constituted an act of terrorism.

Some critics are trying to have Mr. Musharraf tried for treason, a politically contentious undertaking that some fear could prompt an aggressive military intervention.

One retired general, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that senior officers were angered by the sight of Mr. Musharraf being dragged through the courts. And although the retired military leader is facing trial in a civilian court, his security is being provided by serving soldiers, who helped him escape from court when a judge refused him bail on Thursday.

The treason case is due to come before the Supreme Court again on Monday.

While Mr. Musharraf’s difficulties have earned him little public sympathy, an incident outside the courthouse on Saturday was a reminder that his opponents have also engaged in questionable behavior.

Lawyers surrounded and attacked a young man who dared to raise slogans in favor of Mr. Musharraf, leaving him bloodied and dazed. He was saved after onlookers managed to wrest him the lawyers.

The assault was a reminder of how Pakistan’s black-suited lawyers, who once helped oust Musharraf, have tarnished their own image in recent years. Some lawyers have attacked journalists outside courthouses and flung petals on the police officer who assassinated Salman Taseer, the Punjab governor who spoke out for an imprisoned Christian woman in 2010.

NY Times

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