The start of former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf’s trial for treason has been delayed over security fears after explosives were found near the road he was to take to court.
Lawyer Anwar Mansoor Khan told the special treason tribunal on Tuesday that the former general would not be able to attend, after police found five kilograms (11 pounds) of explosives and detonators.
The 70-year-old had been expected to appear in person before a specially-convened court in the capital Islamabad, after legal efforts to have the tribunal ruled invalid failed.
The allegations relate to his imposition of emergency rule in November 2007 and Musharraf and his legal team have dismissed the case as politically-motivated.
As the court was preparing for Tuesday’s preliminary hearing in the case, police said they found five kilograms (11 pounds) of explosive material along with a detonator and two pistols close to the route Musharraf was due to take from his house to the court.
Muhammad Asjad, the police chief for Chak Shahzad, where Musharraf lives, told AFP the material had not been assembled into a bomb.
After the discovery, Musharraf lawyer Anwar Mansoor Khan told the court that the former general would not be able to attend because of serious security threats to his life.
Justice Faisal Arab, heading the three member bench, said he understood the “gravity” of Musharraf’s situation and asked his lawyers to file an application to exempt him from appearing in person.
The court was expected to decide later on Tuesday whether to adjourn the hearing to a later date or to proceed in Musharraf’s absence.
The team of 10 lawyers representing Musharraf has also filed petitions challenging the authority of the special court and objecting to the appointment of the prosecutor.
Defiant and defensive
Musharraf also faces a number of other charges.
He stands accused of murder over the death of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was killed in a gun and suicide attack after a political rally on December 27 2007, as well the death of a Baluch rebel leader, a lethal military raid on the Red Mosque which led to more than 100 people being killed and the detention of judges.
Last week Musharraf promised to clear his name and defended his actions during his regime.
“If someone thinks I did wrong, I apologise for that. But whatever I did, I did for the country and its people,” he told Pakistan’s private ARY channel, from his farmhouse in the Islamabad suburbs where he spent his house arrest
“I will face all cases… I will not run away.”
Musharraff, who was president from 1999 until 2008, has had an inglorious return to Pakistan after his stint of self-imposed exile.
His attempt to run in the May elections foundered and he was placed under house arrest in April, when a litany of charges relating to his nine-year rule surfaced.