What is the Rawalpindi conspiracy

Trials: Murder Case: Bhutto: Musharraf indicted

The 70-year-old defendant, who was brought to the court in Rawalpindi near the capital Islamabad under the strictest security precautions, pleaded not guilty. If found guilty, Musharraf faces life imprisonment or even the death penalty.

Former Prime Minister Bhutto died on December 27, 2007 in an attack on a rally in Rawalpindi. At that time she was seen by many as a bearer of hope.

Musharraf has been under house arrest for months. He had taken power without bloodshed in 1999. The year after the assassination attempt on Bhutto, he was ousted from office after a gradual decline. Years in exile in London and Dubai followed. He returned to Pakistan in March.

Musharraf's APML party criticized the charges as politically motivated. "That's shocking," said party spokeswoman Aasia Ishaque. "The allegations against him are fabricated," she said. A president could not be responsible for an act of murder during his tenure, she said.

The judge adjourned the trial to August 27. Musharraf's lawyer announced that his mandate would fight the allegations. The charges were initially adjourned. At the beginning of the month the police had security concerns about bringing Musharraf to the court against the death threats of the Taliban.

Pakistan had long supported the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Musharraf made a rapid U-turn and sided with the United States. However, his country was still seen as an unreliable partner in the fight against terrorism. (dpa)