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Pakistani police charge Pervez Musharraf in murder of cleric

Former Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf has been handed fresh murder charges over the death of a radical cleric in 2007. He already faces separate murder trials, most notibly relating to an ex-prime minister.

Police registered the new murder charges on Monday against Musharraf, who has found himself tangled in several legal disputes since his return from exile earlier this year. An Islamabad court reportedly requested the charges be filed at an earlier date. It was not immediately clear what caused the delay in its processing.

Monday's charges involve the death of radical cleric Abdul Rashid Ghazi in 2007. Prosecutors allege Musharraf ordered troops to siege a controversial radical mosque in Islamabad - Lal Masjid, known as the Red Mosque in English - during his last year as Pakistan's ruler. Ghazi died in the operation, along with more than 100 people.

Pervez Musharraf ruled Pakistan from 1999-2008, when he resigned after his supporters suffered a defeat in elections. He subsequently lived in London in self-imposed exile. In April, he returned to Pakistan, but soon found himself placed under house arrest, where he has remained ever since.

The most prominent charges against him are in connection with the assassination of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who died in an attack on a political rally in 2007. An anti-terrorism court formally indicted him in her murder in August for not doing enough to protect her.

He also faces charges in the 2007 detention of judges and the death of a Baluch nationalist leader.

Pakistan's new government under Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was deposed by Musharraf in 1999, intends to try him on treason charges for suspending Pakistan's constitution and imposing emergency rule during his last year in power.

kms/ccp (AFP, dpa)