Musharraf sent to judicial custody for 14 days in Bhutto case

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Pakistan’s former military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf will spend the election day under house arrest with an anti-terrorism court today sending him to judicial custody for a fortnight in the Benazir Bhutto assassination case in 2007.

Musharraf was not presented before the judge for today’s hearing for security reasons, said chief prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali of the Federal Investigation Agency.

Though Musharraf was remanded to judicial custody for 14 days, the 69-year-old former military strongman will continue to be restricted to his plush farmhouse at Chak Shahzad on the outskirts of Islamabad, which has been declared a “sub-jail”.

The court fixed the next hearing on May 14, three days after the May 11 elections for which he returned to Pakistan last month, ending his four-year long self-imposed exile.

Pakistani authorities have already disqualified him from contesting the election, effectively putting an end to his ambitions for a political comeback.

At the last hearing on April 26, Musharraf had been remanded to the physical custody of the FIA for four days so that he could be questioned by investigators probing Bhutto’s assassination.

Referring to the FIA’s decision not to produce Musharraf in court today, chief prosecutor Ali told reporters that the interior ministry has issued an order which said that the former President “faces the highest level of security threat”.

“Due to this very reason, he was not presented in court but he was sent on judicial remand,” he said. Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan had announced it had formed a special squad of suicide bombers and snipers to target him.

A car rigged with a huge amount of explosives was recently found near Musharraf’s farmhouse. The intelligence agencies have issued an advisory that the Taliban might attempt to abduct the former President.

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