Musharraf faces the death penalty if convicted of the charges over
his suspension of the constitution and imposition of emergency rule
in 2007, when he was trying to extend his rule as president.
The case marks the first time a former military officer of
Musharraf's rank has appeared in court before a judge. Historically,
the powerful Pakistani military has rarely been challenged by either
the government or the judiciary.
Judge Faisal Arab, who heads a special panel of three judges trying
the case, rejected a defense plea for additional time.
Musharraf stood ramrod straight and replied "Not guilty" to each
"I would like to ask where is the justice for me in the Islamic
republic of Pakistan ... I have only given to this country and not
taken anything," Musharraf said.
"I prefer death to surrender."
Musharraf's lawyer asked for permission for his client to visit his
sick mother in Dubai. The former military ruler is currently under
"His mother is dying, for god's sake," Farough Naseem said. "She is
94 and very ill."
The court promised to rule on the request during the day's
The progression of the case so far is a victory for the increasingly
independent judiciary, which has emerged as Pakistan's third power
Judges are increasingly challenging the fledgling civilian
government, led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and even the
powerful Pakistan military, which has ruled Pakistan for more than
half its history since independence in 1947.
Musharraf has warned the trial could anger the army, but military
leaders have given no indication they might intervene.
[to top of second column]
The former head of state has faced a battery of court cases since he
returned home from exile last year, intending to contest May
Instead, he found himself charged in a series of murder and treason
cases. He is on bail for all except the treason case, which has
faced repeated delays since it began in December.
First he refused to appear. Then a series of explosive devices was
found to have been planted along his route. On January 2, he was
taken to hospital when he suffered chest pains on the way to court.
Musharraf's lawyers have challenged the court's jurisdiction, saying
it was inherently biased because the judiciary had helped lead
popular protests that led to his resignation in 2008.
They argue that Musharraf cannot receive a fair trial under the
government of Sharif, who won landslide elections a year ago.
Musharraf deposed Sharif in a coup in 1999.
Musharraf said his attempts to extend his rule were made in
consultation with the cabinet and agreed to by the government. None
of them are on trial with him, he pointed out.
(Reporting by Syed Raza Hassan; writing by Katharine Houreld;
editing by Clarence Fernandez)
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