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Suspended Pakistani Justice Appears Before Judicial Council

The suspended chief justice of Pakistan's Supreme Court has appeared before a judicial panel to face allegations that he misused his authority.

After a closed door hearing Tuesday, the panel adjourned proceedings against Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry until Friday.

Chaudhry was defiant as he entered the court in the capital, Islamabad. Speaking to crowds of supporters, the embattled justice vowed that he will not resign from his post.

Hundreds of lawyers dressed in black suits shouted words of support to Chaudhry, as they demonstrated against President Pervez Musharraf's decision to suspend him on Friday.

Police officers scuffled with some demonstrators at the court's entrance.

Also Tuesday, the U.S.-based human rights group Human Rights Watch said the justice's suspension and detention has severely undermined judicial independence in Pakistan. The rights group also urged Pakistan to stop a police crackdown on lawyers who are staging peaceful demonstrations against Chaudhry's removal.

On Monday, Pakistani riot police clashed with lawyers holding rallies outside court houses in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi. About 20 people were injured.

Last week, Mr. Musharraf suspended Chaudhry for alleged "misuse of office." The government has not provided details of its case against the justice.

Chaudhry recently has pressured Pakistan's government for information on the whereabouts of more than 140 missing people who allegedly are being held by Pakistani intelligence agencies.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.