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Musharraf Ordered to Appear in Court Despite Health Problems

  • VOA News

FILE - Pakistan's former President and military ruler Pervez Musharraf addresses his party supporters at his house in Islamabad, April 15, 2013.

FILE - Pakistan's former President and military ruler Pervez Musharraf addresses his party supporters at his house in Islamabad, April 15, 2013.

A Pakistani court has ordered ex-President Pervez Musharraf to appear in court next week to face treason charges, despite an illness that kept him from showing up at a previous hearing.

After examining a medical report, the judges on Thursday ruled that the 70-year-old Musharraf, who is currently in a military hospital, must attend the hearing on January 16.

The former general was said to have suffered a heart problem on his way to court in Islamabad last Thursday, and was rushed to the hospital in nearby Rawalpindi. Doctors diagnosed him with coronary artery disease.

It was the third time Musharraf failed to show up at the hearings. His previous two attempts to reach the court were canceled after officials said explosives were found on the route from his home.

Prosecutors, and some in the media, have speculated that the health scare is an attempt to avoid the charges, which can carry a punishment of death or life imprisonment.

The accusations relate to Musharraf's imposition of emergency rule in 2007, a year before he resigned. He denies wrongdoing, but says he wants to stay in the country to fight the charges.

Musharraf faces several other criminal cases dating to his 1999-2008 rule, including one related to the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007. He was granted bail in all cases against him since his return to Pakistan last year.

The ex-general will be the first military ruler tried for treason in the country, which has experienced three military coups in its 66-year history.

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