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Pakistan court postpones Musharraf trial over bomb threat fears

A court in Pakistan has postponed the trial of former Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf on a treason charge. The delay follows security concerns ahead of the trial, which Musharraf says is politically motivated.

Musharraf's trial was postponed until January 1 after explosives were found near the road along which he had been scheduled to travel to court.

The 70-year-old had been expected to appear in person at the specially-convened court in Islamabad on Tuesday. The hearing relates to a string of criminal charges concerning Musharraf's period in power from 1999 to 2008.

The charge of treason comes in connection with Musharraf's #link:17233331:imposition of emergency rule# and, if found guilty, he could face life imprisonment - or even the death penalty. 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.

Taliban target

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.

The former leader is expected to attend the next hearing, at which the charges are due to be read out to him.

Musharraf was placed under house arrest in April, but he has been granted bail since then. While he technically remains a free man, threats to his life mean he lives under heavy guard.

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

He is also accused of acting illegally in the execution of a deadly military raid on a radical mosque, and the detention of judges.

rc/se (AFP, AP, dpa)