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Court summons Musharraf on Dec 6 over Lal Masjid's cleric murder

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani court on Saturday said former president Gen. Rtd. Pervez Musharraf must appear at a hearing in December over Lal Masjid cleric Ghazi Abdur Rasheed’s death during a bloody mosque siege, rejecting his fears over security.

Musharraf faces a string of court cases dating back to his 1999-2008 rule, including over the death of Abdul Rashid Ghazi, one of more than 100 people killed after Pakistani troops stormed the Red Mosque in Islamabad on July 10, 2007.

The mosque was the scene of a week-long military siege against radicals that unleashed a wave of Islamist attacks across Pakistan.

Musharraf’s legal team has fought to avoid a court appearance over the case being pursued by Ghazi’s family, citing ill health — he has been receiving treatment for heart problems — and security fears.

The former president narrowly escaped an apparent assassination attempt in Islamabad in April as a roadside bomb went off shortly before his convoy was due to pass.

“The court has rejected the exemption plea of General Pervez Musharraf in the case regarding killing of Abdul Rashid Ghazi and ordered him to appear on the next hearing of December 6,” Abdul Haq Malik, the lawyer representing the cleric’s son Haron-ur-Rashid Ghazi, told AFP.

Musharraf’s lawyer said the former leader had not been satisfied with the security arrangements for the hearing, adding that the court has now ordered police to provide details for the ex-army chief’s appearance in the court.

“We had requested the court to exempt General Musharraf for appearance in the court on medical grounds and security fears, because Islamabad’s police have not responded to our request about security arrangements,” said Musharraf’s lawyer Akhtar Shah.

“The judge rejected our plea but also ordered police to provide security details.”

Musharraf also faces treason charges over his imposition of emergency rule in 2007 — a historic first in a country ruled for half its existence by the military.

He further faces murder accusations over the 2006 death of Baluch leader Nawab Akbar Bugti and the 2007 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

In June, Pakistan’s Supreme Court suspended a decision which would have allowed Musharraf to leave the country. -AFP

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