Former President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf was indicted by a Pakistani court this week on charges of treason. The former leader faces five counts of high treason and could receive the death penalty if convicted.
According to an Associated Press report, Musharraf himself appeared in court on Monday and delivered a defense of his presidency. He has pleaded not guilty to the treason charges.
The report also throws into doubt whether the trial will ever reach a conclusion. Musharraf’s legal team has requested that the former president be allowed to leave Pakistan to visit his mother, who is in poor health. The judge presiding over the treason case has claimed that the issue is out of his hands, as Musharraf’s position on Pakistan’s customs black list is up to the Pakistani government. According to the AP report, Musharraf’s legal team is considering a government petition for his requested travels.
Musharraf also claimed during his court appearance on Monday that he was present against the advice of his medical team. Musharraf has been living in a hospital in Rawalpindi since January 2014.
Musharraf was Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff when he rose to power during a 1999 military coup. After taking power that year the leader suspended the constitution of Pakistan and instituted a state of emergency in the country.
Musharraf’s treason charges stem from the former president’s actions in 2007. That year Musharraf won a landslide general election in Pakistan due to the forced absence of key opposition party leaders. The election sparked political controversy throughout the country and Musharraf once again declared a state of emergency, suspending the country’s constitution. Pakistani Supreme Court judges were detained in their homes and state media was cut off as protests against Musharraf’s rule grew. These circumstances eventually led to the president’s forced resignation in August 2008.
In addition to charges of high treason, Musharraf has been indicted in Pakistan for the murder of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. He also faces an investigation into his alleged role in the assassination of former Balochistan Province Governor Akbar Bugti.
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