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Musharraf charged with treason in Pakistan

| Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013, 7:54 p.m.

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan will try former military ruler Pervez Musharraf on treason charges, which could carry life imprisonment or the death penalty, for enacting emergency rule in 2007, the interior minister said on Sunday.

The government on Monday will name a special prosecutor and ask the Supreme Court to set up a three-judge tribunal to initiate proceedings against Musharraf under Article 6 of the constitution, he said. That article defines treason.

“The decision has been taken in the national interest,” Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said at a news conference. “It is happening for the first time in the history of Pakistan.”

Musharraf, 70, would be the first military ruler to draw treason charges in a nation that has had three military coups in its 66-year history. Musharraf has maintained his innocence.

Musharraf, a general and former army chief who assumed power in a coup, is also charged in several other criminal cases dating back to his 1999-2008 rule, including one tied to the 2007 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Khan said Musharraf committed crimes against the people of Pakistan and against the constitution. He said that no one, not even the prime minister, could pardon Musharraf, adding that the government has no vendetta against him.

The announcement defied expectations that there might be a deal allowing him to leave the country. He has been granted bail in his various cases, and a court was expected to rule on Monday on an application allowing him to leave the country to visit his sick mother in Dubai.

“The army won't like it that a case of treason has been brought against its ex-chief,” said Sheikh Rasheed, a lawmaker and former information minister under Musharraf, adding that this case in effect is an accusation against the military as a whole.

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