Pakistan's military partially complied with a Supreme Court [official website] ruling on Saturday by producing before the court several prisoners out of the hundreds it has been secretly holding without charges. Human rights lawyers and relatives of the prisoners have fought to obtain information [Reuters report] about the detainees, some of whom disappeared from jails while others were directly apprehended by security forces. Most have not appeared in court to be officially charged with a crime, and other prisoners were acquitted in court but seized by the military after their release. The court ruled on Friday that the army had to produce the prisoners to establish that they were still alive. Fourteen men in the courtroom had scarves over their faces, but the military would not identify how many of those men were prisoners and how many were relatives or other people who could have identified the prisoners. The identities of the 14 men were not revealed.
Pakistan Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry [official profile], who led street protests that ousted former president Pervez Musharraf [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] in 2008, has also led the court through increasing challenges to both the government and military. In November Pakistan officials filed a request [JURIST report[ with the nation's Supreme Court to start treason proceedings against Musharraf. Earlier last month Musharraf was granted bail [JURIST report] in a criminal case relating to the death of a radical cleric. In August the Pakistani interim government declined [JURIST report] to try Musharraf for treason because they claimed such action would be outside the scope of their duties. Also that month a Pakistani court officially charged [JURIST report] Musharraf with murder, conspiracy to commit murder and facilitation of murder in the 2007 death of Bhutto. In April a Pakistan court extended [JURIST report] Musharraf's bail on charges of illegally detaining judges. That same month, the Peshawar High Court of Pakistan both banned [JURIST report] Musharraf from running for public office for the rest of his life and extended his house arrest during the ongoing trial regarding the murder of Bhutto. Musharraf left Pakistan in 2008 to live in self-imposed exile in Dubai and London after he was defeated by Benazir Bhutto's party.