Pakistan government withdraws one charge against suspended chief justice

[JURIST] Pakistani government lawyer Sharifuddin Pirzada informed the Supreme Court of Pakistan [official website] Monday that prosecutors are dismissing a single charge of judicial misconduct against suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry [official website; JURIST news archive]. Pirzada said that President Pervez Musharraf made the decision, but did not specify the reasons behind it. Other unspecified charges of misconduct [JURIST report] are still being pursued against Chaudhry. The high court is expected to rule on the remaining charges later this week.

In early July, the high court tossed out key evidence [JURIST report] introduced by government prosecutors against Chaudhry because the materials, which contained photographs taken inside Chaudhry's home, corroborated allegations by Chaudhry that the government was spying on senior judges. The court rebuked government prosecutors and ordered Pakistan's intelligence service to sweep the high court and the justices' residences for surveillance devices. The government says Chaudhry misused his influence [JURIST report] to obtain jobs and promotions for his son. Officials have already indicated other charges may follow [JURIST report]. Many Pakistani lawyers and opposition leaders believe Chaudhry's suspension was an indirect bid by Musharraf to continue his eight-year rule in an election year. Reuters has more.

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