ISLAMABAD, Aug 11 (Reuters) - Former president Pervez Musharraf would face arrest if he returned to Pakistan after police registered a case against him on Tuesday over his detention of judges during a political crisis in 2007.
The military dictator, who came to power in a coup in 1999, left Pakistan more than two months ago, having been forced to quit as president in August last year in order to avoid impeachment by a hostile parliament.
"He could either be arrested on his return or through Interpol," Hakam Khan, head of a police station in Islamabad where the case was lodged, told Reuters.
If convicted he Musharraf could be jailed for three years, Khan said.
This is the first time that such a case has been brought against a former military ruler.
"He detained judges and ousted them illegally so he has to be tried for his illegal and unconstitutional actions," Mohammad Aslam Ghuman, the lawyers who filed the case against Musharraf, told Reuters.
Earlier this month the Supreme Court ruled that Musharraf had violated the constitution by imposing emergency rule and purging the judiciary in November 2007 in a desperate move to hold onto the presidency.
The court left it up to parliament whether Musharraf, once a vaunted ally of the United States, should be tried for treason for his actions.
With the knives out for him at home the old general has spent most of his time since late May in London and he is believed to be looking to settle in Europe.
Outrage over the use of emergency powers and detention of opposition figures, including the judges, contributed to the defeat of Musharraf’s allies in an election in 2008.
The fragile civilian government is faced by acute economic and security crises, with the army fighting a Taliban insurgency in the northwest
Although Musharraf is regarded as yesterday’s man, the ruling coalition led by President Asif Ali Zardari’s party has shown little appetite for prosecuting him.
Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister Musharraf overthrew and Zardari’s greatest rival, is pushing for his usurper to be brought to justice.
But, analysts say the still powerful army would be uneasy if Musharraf’s humiliation became too great, as many serving generals had backed him. (Reporting by Kamran Haider; Writing by Simon Cameron-Moore; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)