Image: A placard of former President Pervez Musharraf is left behind by his supporter after a protest demanding a fair trial for him in Karachi March 9, 2014. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro/Files
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan General Pervez Musharraf, who came to power in 1999 in a bloodless coup against current Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, was acquitted on Monday of the murder of a separatist leader in 2006, removing one of several cases against him.
Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti led a tribal campaign to win political autonomy for Baluchistan, Pakistan’s biggest province and the richest in mineral resources. He was killed in a battle between tribal militants and government forces in the restive province in 2006.
Musharraf, who also faces treason charges, was charged with the murder in January last year on the grounds he ordered the killing. But on Monday, an anti-terrorism court in the provincial capital, Quetta, acquitted him.
“We aren’t satisfied with the judgment and will challenge it in court,” Sohail Rajput, the lawyer for Bugti’s family, told reporters outside the court.
For decades, Baluchistan nationalists have accused Punjab, Pakistan’s most populated province, of exploiting their natural resources. Militants have targeted government installations, security forces, gas pipelines, railway tracks and electricity pylons.
Musharraf ordered a military crackdown in Baluchistan in late 2005 after being targeted by a rocket attack while visiting the province.
In late 2006, Pakistani forces killed Bugti and dozens of other rebels at a hideout in Baluchistan’s rugged mountains.
Musharraf has also been charged in connection with the 2007 assassination of prime minister Benazir Bhutto and the murder of a prominent cleric since returning to Pakistan from exile in 2013.
Musharraf was granted bail in the Bhutto assassination and treason cases and remains free, mostly living in Pakistan.
(Reporting by Mehreen Zahra-Malik; Editing by Nick Macfie)
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