ISLAMABAD, Apr 12 – Massive security accompanied Pakistan’s former leader Pervez Musharraf as he appeared again in court on Friday, bailed for another week for charges relating to his nine years in office.
The authorities shut down main roads, causing significant bottlenecks, as heavily armed paramilitary police, some of them dressed in riot gear, and plain-clothed intelligence agents fanned around the Islamabad high court.
Snipers were posted on rooftops to guard the main approach as Musharraf — who the Taliban have threatened to assassinate — arrived in a black jeep, accompanied by a bristling convoy of bodyguards.
Local television channels reported that he wore a bullet-proof jacket, an unprecedented precaution by a major figure making a public appearance in the capital, but AFP reporters could not approach the former military ruler to confirm.
Musharraf spent barely 20 minutes inside the courtroom to listen to the judge grant him bail until April 18, when he has been ordered to appear in person again, over his November 2007 sacking of judges, which paved the way for his downfall.
It was Musharraf’s second appearance in court since he returned home on March 24 to contest general elections in May after four years of self-imposed exile, and his third bail extension in the judges’ case.
He has also been bailed over the 2007 killing of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and a Baluch rebel leader in 2006.
At his previous court appearance on March 29, a lawyer threw a shoe at Musharraf, a hugely insulting gesture in the Muslim world.
On Monday, Musharraf’s lawyers will also appear in the Supreme Court over demands that the 69-year-old go on trial for treason for subverting the constitution by sacking judges in 2007.
Musharraf has been approved to stand in one constituency in the May 11 election, which will mark the first democratic transition of power after a civilian government has served a full term in office in the country’s history.