Pakistan police on Monday registered murder charges against former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in connection with the death of a radical cleric during the siege of a mosque in 2007.
It is the latest in a series of charges dating back to Musharraf’s 1999-2008 rule, which the retired general has faced since returning from self-imposed exile in March.
Radical cleric Abdul Rashid Ghazi was one of more than 100 people killed after Pakistani troops stormed the Red Mosque in Islamabad on July 10, 2007. Ghazi’s brother, Abdul Aziz, escaped in a burqa.
The operation opened the floodgates to a Taliban-led insurgency that has killed thousands of people in Pakistan.
“The HC ordered Islamabad police to register murder charges against Musharraf on a petition filed by the son of Rashid Ghazi,” said Tariq Asad, a lawyer who represented Ghazi in court.
“The court ordered police to register the case earlier as well but their instructions were not followed. Today, the court made Islamabad police officials write the case inside the court room and comply with the orders right there,” he said.
Police confirmed that the charges had been registered. “We have booked Musharraf under section 302/119 of the law, which deals with murder charges,” Qasim Niazi, a senior police official, told AFP.
An anti-terrorism court last month charged Musharraf with the murder of former prime ministerBenazir Bhutto, who died in a gun and suicide attack after a political rally in December 2007.
It was the first time a head of Pakistan’s army has been charged with a crime, challenging beliefs that the military is immune from prosecution and threatening to fan tensions with civilian institutions.
While murder will be difficult to prove, it may embolden efforts to try Musharraf for treason for seizing power in 1999 and for violating the constitution by sacking judges and imposing emergency rule in 2007. Treason can carry the death penalty.
Musharraf also faces murder accusations over the 2006 death of Baluch rebel leader Nawab Akbar Bugti.
Musharraf has been under house arrest at his plush villa on the edge of Islamabad since April.