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Pervez Musharraf granted bail in rebel death case: lawyers.

Islamabad: Pakistan's Supreme Court on Wednesday granted bail to former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in a murder case related to the killing of Baluch nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Bugti in a 2006 military operation in southwestern Baluchistan province.

This brings closer his possible release after nearly six months of house arrest.

Musharraf has now been granted bail in three major cases against him, including one relating to the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

His lawyer said the ruling meant he was a "free man".

The retired general, under detention at his farmhouse in the suburbs of Islamabad since April -- following his return to Pakistan from self-imposed exile -- is the principal accused in the Bugti murder case at an anti-terrorism court in Baluchistan's capital, Quetta.

The former president had approached the top court after the Baluchistan High Court turned down his appeal against the refusal of the anti-terrorism court to accept his bail plea, followed by an order to authorities to present him before it in the provincial capital.

A three-member Supreme Court bench headed Justice Nasirul Mulk, while accepting the bail plea of the former army chief, ordered him to deposit two surety bonds of rupees one million each.

During the hearing Baluchistan's prosecutor general gave no answer when the bench asked him whether he had any concrete evidence about Musharraf's alleged involvement in a conspiracy to kill Nawab Bugti, a former provincial chief minister.

Musharraf's lawyer contended that the Baluchistan High Court had rejected his client's appeal on technical grounds and not on merits and the bench agreed with him.

Besides the ex-president, former Baluchistan governor Owais Ghani and former federal interior minister Aftab Sherpao are also accused in the Bugti murder case.

Embroiled in legal battles, the former president has been granted bail previously in a case related to 2007 assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhugg and also in another case pertaining to detention of judges of superior courts in the same year.

The Islamabad High Court has ordered the Islamabad police to register a case against the former military president over the 2007 Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) military operation in the capital and carry out necessary investigation.

The around four-month old government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said it intends to put Musharraf on trial for treason over suspension of the constitution and imposition of a state of emergency by him in November 2007.

Musharraf stepped down in August 2008 under threat of impeachment by the parliament and left the country. He came back to Pakistan in March to run in the May general election and lead his political faction's election campaign.

But his candidature was not accepted and a high court banned him for life from contesting elections. On the orders of the Supreme Court his name has been placed on a government exit control list, barring his departure from the country.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Oct 10, 2013
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