Pakistani judge gives ex-president Musharraf bail


Wed, Nov 06, 2013 - Page 6

A court granted former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf bail on Monday in a case related to the death of a radical cleric, paving the way for an end to his more than six-month house arrest, his defense lawyer said.

Musharraf, who has been plagued by legal troubles since he returned to Pakistan in March after years of self-imposed exile, was already granted bail in three other cases against him. However, he is still not allowed to leave the country, his lawyer Ilyas Saddiqi said.

Saddiqi said Musharraf was granted bail because there was no evidence to prove his involvement in the death of the cleric, who was killed during a raid on a hardline mosque in Islamabad in 2007.

Musharraf ordered the raid against the Red Mosque after students there began harassing massage parlors, stores that sold music and other targets they felt promoted vulgarity.

The people holed up in the mosque fought for days. The raid ended with nearly 100 people dead, including at least 10 Pakistani Army commandos. The army said it seized a large cache of arms from the mosque.

The incident severely damaged Musharraf’s reputation and earned him the undying hatred of militants, who launched a series of punishing attacks. The son of the mosque’s cleric had been pushing for Musharraf to be investigated since the raid, but police refused until a judge in Islamabad ordered them to open a case in early September.

Saddiqi said the bail granted on Monday means Musharraf should be free to leave his house on the outskirts of Islamabad, where he has been under arrest since April.

The other cases he faces have to do with his alleged role in the murder of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto, the death of a Baluch separatist leader killed by the army and the detention of Pakistani judges.

The images of Musharraf facing justice like any other Pakistani citizen have been stunning in a country where the military has taken power in three coups and wielded enormous power even under civilian governments.