Pervez Musharraf: Pakistan issues new arrest warrant

Pervez Musharraf on 29 December 2013 Security and health concerns have prevented Mr Musharraf from attending earlier hearings in this treason case

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A Pakistani court has issued an arrest warrant for ex-military ruler Pervez Musharraf, rejecting his plea to go abroad for medical treatment.

Mr Musharraf has been in hospital ever since suffering chest pains on the way to his treason trial on 2 January.

Prosecutors argued his medical condition was not serious enough for him to avoid appearing before judges

Mr Musharraf says all the accusations against him are politically motivated.

The warrant issued is "bailable", which means he could avoid arrest if he files a bail application on time.

He is the first former military ruler to face trial for treason in Pakistan, which has a history of army rule. If found guilty, he could be sentenced to death or life in prison.

Analysis

These warrants issued against Pervez Musahrraf are bailable and as such may not necessarily lead to his immediate arrest.

But many believe the order has tightened the noose around the former military ruler. The rejection of his plea to travel abroad for treatment is also a setback.

This means that if he chooses to remain absent from further hearings, the court can order further inquiry into his state of health. If it finds his condition to be stable enough for him to travel to the court, it could issue non-bailable warrants for his arrest.

Mr Musharraf's next step will likely be to challenge this order in the Supreme Court. He may also consider going to the high court with a plea to revoke the ban on his travel abroad, which was imposed by the government after a high court order and which the special court trying him for treason says has no powers to revoke.

Mr Musharraf, who governed Pakistan from 1999 until 2008, also faces separate charges of murder and restricting the judiciary.

The treason charges relate to his decision in 2007 to suspend the constitution and impose emergency rule.

He has been at the military-run Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC) in Rawalpindi since he was admitted on his way to a treason hearing.

Security concerns prevented him attending earlier hearings.

Correspondents say many people have viewed reports of his illness with scepticism, as they did the security scares which his defence team say have prevented him from appearing in court.

But his lawyers argued that he needed to go abroad because no modern support system was available in the country to perform procedures related to heart diseases.

A medical report issued by AFIC physicians recently said he needed an angiography.

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