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Treason Indictment for Musharraf

A special court set up to try Pakistan's former military ruler, Pervez Musharraf, has indicted him on five counts of treason, a milestone for civilian authority in a country long dominated by the army.

Mr. Musharraf pleaded "not guilty" to each count Monday at the court in Islamabad. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

In an address to the court, Mr. Musharraf said "I am not a traitor," and highlighted Pakistan's achievements under his tenure.

His appearance in court Monday was only the second time he has attended the lengthy court proceedings that began in December. Analysts say his continued appearance may be in question as his lawyers have submitted a motion requesting that the 70-year-old former ruler be allowed to leave Pakistan to visit his ailing mother in Dubai. The three-judge tribunal is expected to rule on the motion Monday.

The treason charges stem from his decision in 2007 to suspend the constitution and declare a state of emergency in his bid to extend his increasingly disputed rule as president. Mr, Musharraf's defense team says he did acted on the advice of the prime minister and the cabinet when he suspended the constitution.



Mr. Musharraf seized power in a military coup in 1999 by ousting then prime minister Nawaz Sharif, and later forcing him into exile.

Mr. Musharraf stepped down in 2008 and went into self-imposed exile months later. The former army leader returned to Pakistan last year to participate in the May elections, but was barred from doing so because of several legal challenges facing him.

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