Another Pak court refuses bail to ex-president Musharraf

Legal woes seem unending for Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, back in Pakistan for an already abortive bid to contest in the 11 May general elections

On Wednesday, a Rawalpindi court refused to extend his bail in connection with the murder of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who was killed in a shooting and bomb blast nwhile campaigning for elections in December 2007.

Musharraf has been accused of failing to provide adequate security to Bhutto when she returned to Pakistan from self-exile.

This is the second of three cases dating back to his 1999-2008 rule for which he has been denied bail. He is already under a two-week house arrest at his villa on the edge of Islamabad over his decision to sack judges when he imposed emergency rule in November 2007. (See:Court orders Musharraf's custody for two week).

Musharraf, who attended a separate hearing relating to the Bhutto case on Tuesday, did not appear before the court on Wednesday and neither did his main lawyer.

"The court dismissed Gen Musharraf's bail application," prosecution lawyer Chaudhry Azhar told reporters after the hearing by the Lahore high court sitting in Rawalpindi, the garrison city twinned to Islamabad. "Now the FIA (federal investigative agency) should arrest him," he added.

Musharraf's arrest and disqualification from contesting the elections have been a humiliating blow for the former ruler of Pakistan, who returned home last month promising to "save" the country.

On Tuesday, police said they had recovered a car carrying detonators and explosives on the road leading to Musharraf's house. The Pakistani Taliban have threatened to kill Musharraf, who escaped three assassination attempts during his rule.

Nobody has been convicted or jailed for Bhutto's assassination on 27 December 2007, in Rawalpindi, despite a long-running court case.

Musharraf's government blamed Bhutto's killing on Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud, who denied any involvement and who was killed in a US drone attack in August 2009.

In 2010 a UN report said Bhutto's death could have been prevented and accused Musharraf's government of failing to give her adequate protection.

Bhutto's son, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who is chairman of the outgoing Pakistan People's Party, has accused Musharraf of her murder.

An anti-terrorism court on Tuesday ordered the Federal Investigation Agency to include Musharraf in the probe into the assassination.