Musharraf trial put off after 'bomb' scare

InternationalParamilitary soldiers stand guard outside the special court trying Musharraf in Islamabad Tuesday. reuters

Former Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf's trial for high treason was Tuesday put off till January 1 after explosives were found on the road he was to take to court for the first hearing of the case.

Security personnel found five kilograms of explosives, a detonator and two loaded pistols near the National Institute of Health on the route he was to take from his farmhouse in the suburb of Chak Shahzad to a special court.

Police officials told the media the explosives and detonator had not been assembled into a bomb.

Musharraf's lawyers told the special court formed to try him for imposing emergency in 2007 that he could not appear in person because of a "serious threat to his life".

Justice Faisal Arab, heading the three-judge bench, adjourned the case and directed the 70-year-old former army chief to appear on January 1, when the charges are expected to be read out to him.

"The hearing has been postponed till January 1," said Mohammad Ali Saif, a key member of Musharraf's legal team.

During proceedings, held in an auditorium of the National Library, Musharraf's lawyers filed a petition that objected to the formation of the special court and appointment of the prosecutor by the government.

Asked if a decision was taken on this petition, Saif told PTI, "The petition would be argued upon on January 1."

The court directed authorities to make fool-proof security arrangements for the next hearing.

This is the first time in Pakistan's history that a military ruler has been put on trial for treason. If convicted, Musharraf could face life imprisonment or the death penalty.

The treason allegation is the latest in a string of criminal charges against Musharraf since he returned to Pakistan from self-exile in March.

His aides have dismissed all the charges as politically motivated.

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