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Threats to life prompt Pakistan's Musharraf to skip court in Bhutto case

By Shaista Aziz and Saima Mohsin, CNN
August 6, 2013 -- Updated 1039 GMT (1839 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Musharraf fails to appear in court to face charges in Benazir Bhutto murder case
  • Intelligence services warn of threats to the former president's life, his lawyer says
  • The case is adjourned until August 20
  • Musharraf is accused of failing to provide adequate security for Bhutto in 2007

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf failed to appear Tuesday at a court where he was due to be indicted in connection with the death of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.

Musharraf didn't travel to the hearing at an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi because intelligence services warned of credible threats against his life, said his lawyer Ahmed Raza Kasuri.

Read more: Can Musharraf save U.S. from liability for drone attacks?

The Pakistani capital, Islamabad, which adjoins Rawalpindi, was put on high alert Sunday after intelligence reports suggested the possibility of a high-profile attack.

The court has adjourned Musharraf's case until August 20, Kasuri said.

GPS Highlights: Pervez Musharraf
Former President Musharraf in court
Pervez Musharraf facing charges

Musharraf is not expected to be charged with murder, but over his alleged failure to provide adequate security for Bhutto, Kasuri said last week.

Accusations over assassination

Bhutto, Pakistan's first female prime minister, was assassinated in a gun-suicide attack in December 2007, shortly after she came back to Pakistan from self-imposed exile to take part in the 2008 general elections.

Musharraf was president at the time.

Read more: The story of Pervez Musharraf

Musharraf's government blamed former Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud for the assassination, saying he had paid a network of Islamist militants to carry out the killing.

But Musharraf and his security forces have been accused of failing to protect Bhutto, a political rival.

The former military ruler has denied having anything to do with Bhutto's killing and his lawyers say the allegations against him are politically motivated. He plans to plead not guilty to the expected charges.

A troubled return

After the general elections in 2008 where his party was trounced, Musharraf stepped down as the governing coalition began taking steps to impeach him.

He then went into self-imposed exile.

Earlier this year, he returned to Pakistan in an attempt to revive his political career. It didn't work.

Instead, he's become entangled in a thicket of court cases related to his time as the country's top leader.

He has been under house arrest since April.

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