Skip to main content

Pakistan court indicts former military leader Pervez Musharraf for treason

From Sophia Saifi and Adeel Raja, CNN
March 31, 2014 -- Updated 1252 GMT (2052 HKT)
Musharraf is escorted by soldiers as he arrives at an anti-terrorism court in Islamabad in April 2013.
Musharraf is escorted by soldiers as he arrives at an anti-terrorism court in Islamabad in April 2013.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Pervez Musharraf faces five treason charges, including imposing emergency rule in 2007
  • The former army chief, who ruled until 2008, pleaded not guilty to all five
  • Musharraf says he took action to stabilize the country and fight rising Islamist extremism
  • High treason carries the death penalty or life imprisonment

Islamabad (CNN) -- A Special Court in Pakistan has charged former military ruler Pervez Musharraf with high treason -- a crime that carries the death penalty or life imprisonment.

Musharraf, who ruled the country following a 1999 coup until 2008, faced a total of five charges during the hearing at the court in Islamabad Monday, including three counts of subverting, suspending and changing the country's constitution, sacking Pakistan's chief justice and imposing emergency rule. He pleaded "not guilty" to each of the charges.

In an address to the court, the former president denied he was a traitor, and instead claimed Pakistan "prospered and grew" under his tenure.

Monday's hearing took place amid tight security, with thousands of police and security forces lining the route to the court. In an unexpected twist, the retired army general was represented by a new lawyer, with no reason yet given for the change.

Web of court cases

Musharraf indicted in Bhutto killing
Secret drone deal between Pakistan, U.S.
GPS Highlights: Pervez Musharraf

Musharraf went into self-imposed exile in 2008, in London and more recently in Dubai, after standing down as president. He returned to Pakistan last year with the aim of running in the country's national elections. But his plans unraveled as he became entangled in a web of court cases relating to his time in power.

In 2007, Musharraf declared a state of emergency, suspended Pakistan's constitution, replaced the chief judge and blacked out independent TV outlets.

Musharraf said he did so to stabilize the country and to fight rising Islamist extremism. The action drew sharp criticism from the United States and democracy advocates. Pakistanis openly called for his removal.

Under pressure from the West, Musharraf later lifted the state of emergency and called elections in which his party fared badly.

Musharraf stepped down in August 2008 after the governing coalition began taking steps to impeach him. Prosecutors say Musharraf violated Pakistan's constitution by imposing the state of emergency.

In January, Musharraf was unable to attend another court hearing after being hospitalized. Asiya Ishaq, a supporter and leader of the All Pakistan Muslim League, said the former president had been feeling pressure in his chest and was not well. Pakistan media has reported he has been receiving treatment for high blood pressure.

Musharraf is also on an "exit control list" in Pakistan, which prevents him leaving the country, although Akram Shaikh, the prosecutor in the case, said Monday that if the court allows the 70-year old to travel abroad then he has no objection. Pakistan media has reported that Musharraf's mother is currently in critical condition in a hospital in the UAE, and that he has requested permission to visit her.

READ: Pervez Musharraf appears in Pakistan court to face treason charges

READ: Ex-Pakistani President Musharraf hospitalized just before his trial

READ: Former President Pervez Musharraf freed from house arrest in Pakistan

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 1255 GMT (2055 HKT)
ISIS has made surprise gains in Iraq and Syria in recent months, but may begin to suffer setbacks on the battlefield.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 1844 GMT (0244 HKT)
The fear of Russian invasion is receding but peace may still be tricky to find.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 0023 GMT (0823 HKT)
Convicted match fixer Wilson Raj Perumal boasts to CNN of fixing World Cup games adding: "I was on the bench and telling players what to do, giving orders to the coach."
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 0815 GMT (1615 HKT)
Don't like the country you live in? Meet the people who created their own "micronations."
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 0934 GMT (1734 HKT)
"Princess Fragrant" is the latest effort to foster harmony in China's restive Xinjiang region.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 0212 GMT (1012 HKT)
The signs exist that indicate U.S. airstrikes into Syria are on the way.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 0340 GMT (1140 HKT)
AC360 looks back at the most moving moments from Michael Brown's funeral.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 0244 GMT (1044 HKT)
The mother of a hostage freed after two years captivity says it's not time to party.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 0946 GMT (1746 HKT)
We asked you what you would like to know about Ebola. Experts answer some of your most common questions and concerns.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 0600 GMT (1400 HKT)
"I just love it when I get milk-to-dark converts," says Kerrin Rousset, before she leads a small cocoa-hungry crowd through Zurich's Old Town.
ADVERTISEMENT