Musharraf surrenders, remanded in temporary house arrest

19 Apr 2013


A Pakistan court put former military ruler Pervez Musharraf under two days' house arrest today after he surrendered to a magistrate.

Pervez Musharraf Musharraf was arrested by the authorities a day after his bail extension plea was cancelled by the Islamabad High Court, after which he fled from the court complex.

Musharraf along with his team of lawyers was produced in Judicial Magistrate Muhammad Abbas Shah's court this morning, where he requested an extension of his bail.

Instead, the court ordered his arrest first and later pronounced the order over Musharraf's judicial remand. The magistrate, while putting Musharraf under house arrest under police custody in a 'transit remand', also directed the authorities to produce him before anti-terrorism court in two days.

Footage on television showed Musharraf being led into the magistrate's small and dimly-lit office by dozens of policemen and paramilitary personnel. He looked shaken.

He was also seen emerging from the magistrate's office and heading for his car. Musharraf waited in his car for some time as the magistrate initially reserved his decision.

However, he was driven to his farmhouse by his security detail before the magistrate issued the order for his detention shortly after 9.15 am.

Officials said Musharraf would be detained at his farmhouse at Chak Shahzad on the outskirts of Islamabad as he faced threats to his life and could not be sent to prison.

The Islamabad high court had ordered his arrest on Thursday over charges dating back to his 1999-2008 rule after the retired general returned to Pakistan from four years in self-imposed exile to contest historic May polls.

It is the first time that the judiciary has ordered the arrest of a former army chief of staff. Pakistan has been ruled for around half its existence by the army, considered the most powerful institution in the country.

The 69-year-old Musharraf, who left court with his bodyguards, is now holed up in his plush but heavily fortified home on the edge of Islamabad, with police massed outside.

"General Musharraf has been sent on a two-day judicial custody and he will stay at his farmhouse," said a spokesman for his All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) party.

"Musharraf himself surrendered before the court on Friday morning," Amjad said, denying media reports that he had been arrested prior to going to court.

His team said they would seek bail in the Supreme Court later Friday.

Pakistan's top court is already hearing a petition demanding that Musharraf face trial for treason for imposing emergency law in 2007, punishable by death or life in prison.

He is also accused of conspiracy to murder opposition leader Benazir Bhutto in 2007 and over the death of a rebel leader during a 2006 military operation. He had been granted bail repeatedly since his homecoming on 24 March to participate in the 11 May general elections, a move that seems to have proved abortive.

It has been a humiliating return to Pakistan for the man who promised to "save" the nation from poverty and rampant insecurity by contesting the elections until judges on Tuesday disqualified him from standing.

His APML party is now considered unlikely to win any seats but his team has sought to present life as normal.

"He is in high spirits ... he is sipping coffee and smoking cigars," his lawyer Ahmed Raza Kasuri told reporters on Thursday.

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