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Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf indicted for treason
Agence France Presse - March 31, 2014
The former president pleaded "not guilty" to the five charges read out by a special court on Monday. Mr Musharraf, who has been absent from most of the tribunal's hearings owing to security threats and ill health, then turned to address the court.
"I honour this court and prosecution, I strongly believe in law, I don't have ego problems, and I have appeared in court 16 times in this year in Karachi, Islamabad and Rawalpindi," the 70-year-old said.
Appearing fit and confident, he made an emotional speech highlighting the country's achievements under his tenure.
"I am being called a traitor, I have been chief of army staff for nine years and I have served this army for 45 years. I have fought two wars and it is 'treason'? I am not a traitor. For me traitors are those who loot public money and empty the treasury."
After the hearing, chief prosecutor Akram Sheikh said Mr Musharraf's main defence rested in the claim that he acted on the advice of then-prime minister Shaukat Aziz and the cabinet when suspending the constitution.
"He has taken the defence that he did not take these steps independently," Mr Sheikh said. "On this I have submitted before the court that it is now for him to prove that he has done this on the advice of the prime minister and the cabinet."
Mr Musharraf declared a state of emergency in November 2007, shortly before the Supreme Court was due to rule on the legality of his re-election as president a month earlier. He was also the army chief at this time. He then arrested and sacked the country's top judges, including the chief justice, who challenged his decision.
Mr Musharraf has endured a torrid time since returning to Pakistan in March last year on an ill-fated mission to run in the general election. Almost as soon as he landed he was barred from contesting the vote and hit with a barrage of legal cases, including on his decision to raid a radical mosque in Islamabad, the killing of a rebel leader in Baluchistan and the death of ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto.