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Musharraf ‘Free Man’ After Bail Hearing

by AFP
Aamir Qureshi—AFP

Aamir Qureshi—AFP

Former president’s lawyer says bail was granted in Akbar Bugti case over lack of evidence.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted bail to former president Pervez Musharraf over the death of a rebel leader, his lawyers said, bringing closer his possible release after nearly six months of house arrest.

Musharraf has now been granted bail in three major cases against him, including one relating to the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

His lawyer said the ruling meant he was a “free man.” But he is likely to remain under heavy guard at his house on the edge of Islamabad, where he has been under house arrest since April, because of serious threats to his life.

Musharraf was head of state in 2006 when the main rebel leader in Balochistan province, Akbar Bugti, died during an Army operation.

His lawyer Ibrahim Satti said a three-member Supreme Court bench had granted bail in the Bugti case in return for surety bonds worth Rs. 2 million. Another counsel for Musharraf, Qamar Afzal, said bail was granted over lack of evidence.

“Pervez Musharraf is a free man now after getting bail in the Bugti case,” Afzal said.

As well as the Bugti and Bhutto cases, Musharraf also faces cases over the suspension of judges during emergency rule, which he imposed in 2007.

The Taliban have threatened to kill the 70-year-old former general, who as president allied Pakistan with Washington in the U.S.-led “war on terror” in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

Musharraf returned to Pakistan in March to run in the general elections, vowing to “save” the country from economic collapse and militancy. But he was barred from standing in the election, won convincingly by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif—the man he ousted from power in 1999—and was hit with a barrage of criminal cases dating back to his rule.

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. It was seen by many as a challenge to the armed forces’ power.

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