RAWALPINDI, Pakistan — A Pakistani court today indicted former president and army chief Pervez Musharraf on murder charges in connection with the 2007 assassination of iconic Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, deepening the fall of a once-powerful figure who returned to the country this year to make a political comeback.
The decision by a court in Rawalpindi marks the first time Musharraf, or any former army chief in Pakistan, has been charged with a crime.
Musharraf, who took power in a 1999 coup and stepped down from office in disgrace nearly a decade later, now faces a litany of legal problems that have in many ways broken taboos on the inviolability of the once-sacrosanct military in Pakistani society. He is currently under house arrest in connection with one of the cases against him.
The retired general was charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder and facilitation for murder, said prosecutor Chaudhry Muhammed Azhar. He did not specify what exactly Musharraf was accused of doing but prosecutors have previously accused him of failing to provide enough protection to Bhutto.
Under Pakistan’s legal system he had previously been arrested on accusations he played a role in the assassination but today’s legal proceedings mark the first time the government has formally charged him with a specific crime in Bhutto’s slaying.
The former army commando appeared in person during the brief morning hearing and pleaded not guilty, said Afshan Adil, a member of Musharraf’s legal team.