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Pakistan court indicts Musharraf for treason

A court in Pakistan has indicted former military ruler Pervez Musharraf on treason charges relating to his imposition of emergency rule in 2007. Musharraf has pleaded not guilty.

The charges against Musharraf include suspending the constitution, declaring a state of emergency and purging the judiciary. Musharraf, who ruled Pakistan between 1999 and 2008, pleaded not guilty to each of the five charges as they were read out.

The case is the first time in Pakistan that any acting or former army chief has been charged with treason; it is considered a blow to the country's powerful military.

Musharraf had been absent from most of the special court's tribunal hearings in recent months due to security threats and ill health. His lawyer, Ahmed Raza Kasuri, said the three-member tribunal had ordered Musharraf's arrest if he did not appear at Monday's hearing.

Musharraf and his lawyers claim that the charges are politically motivated, coming after the re-election of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who Musharraf deposed upon seizing power.

The ex-president declared a state of emergency in November 2007, before an expected ruling by the Supreme Court on the legality of his re-election a month earlier as president, while he was also the army chief. Musharraf then arrested and fired Pakistan's top judges, including the chief justice, who challenged the decision.

Musharraf is best-known in the West for leading Pakistan into its uneasy alliance with the US in the "war on terror." The Taliban have repeatedly threatened to kill him.

After he returned from self-imposed exile in March 2013 to run in the general election last May, Masharraf has faced a range of charges, including charges relating to the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in late 2007.

jr/msh (AP, AFP, dpa)