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Judge orders Musharraf held for 14 days before next hearing

Following former Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf's return to Pakistan this week after four years of self-imposed exile and his subsequent arrest, on Saturday a judge effectively place Musharraf under house arrest for two weeks.  

By Zarar KhanAssociated Press / April 20, 2013

Paramilitary troops stand guard as Pakistan's former President and military ruler Pervez Musharraf, (c.), leaves after appearing in an anti-terrorism court in Islamabad, Pakistan on Saturday. The general who ruled Pakistan for nearly a decade before being forced to step down appeared Saturday in front of an anti-terrorism court in connection with charges linked to his 2007 sacking and detention of a number of judges.

Anjum Naveed/AP

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Islamabad

A Pakistani judge on Saturday ordered former military ruler Pervez Musharraf be held in custody for two weeks until the next hearing in a case related to his 2007 decision to sack and detain several judges.

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The police then declared Musharraf's lavish country residence a jail, paving way for him to be taken and held there under what is essentially house arrest.

The development is the latest act in the drama surrounding Musharraf that erupted earlier this week and climaxed with his arrest Friday after a speedy escape from another court hearing.

The former general, who seized power in a coup and ruled Pakistan for nearly a decade, has seen his fortunes plummet since he returned in March after four years in self-imposed exile.

The arrest of such a prominent military figure in a country that has experienced three coups has unsettled Pakistan at a time when it is preparing for historic elections on May 11.

Saturday's order came at a hearing in an Islamabad court, where Musharraf was brought under heavy security as supporters and opponents gathered outside the court.

The judge ruled that he would be given judicial remand, which means that he would be held in custody until the next hearing on May 4. Musharraf's legal team had been pushing to get his estate on the edge of Islamabad declared a sub-jail under Pakistani law.

The Islamabad chief commissioner later issued a notification declaring the residence a jail, said police official Mohammed Khalid. Musharraf, who was taken from the court back to the police guesthouse where he had spent the night, was to be transported later Saturday to his private house in the country to remain there under house arrest.

Musharraf was arrested in the case that stems from his decision, while in power, to sack and detain the judges, including the country's chief justice, after declaring a state of emergency and suspending the constitution.

At the time, Musharraf was apparently concerned the judges would push back against his re-election as president. As a justification for the state of emergency he also cited the growing Taliban insurgency in the country's northwest.

But the move backfired horribly. The country's lawyers took to the streets in widespread protests that eventually weakened Musharraf's government so much that he was forced to call new elections and step down.

A judge has said Musharaf's 2007 decision amounted to terrorism, which is why the case is now being heard before an anti-terrorism court. Such courts are closed to the media and the public.

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