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Musharraf has 'heart problem' on way to court

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan--Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf was rushed to the hospital Thursday after suffering a “heart problem” on his way to court, in the latest dramatic twist in his treason trial.

The 70-year-old had been summoned to the special tribunal in Islamabad after failing to show up for two previous sessions due to security threats against him.

Jan Mohammad, a senior police official, told the court that Musharraf had fallen ill with a “heart problem” while being transported to the hearing under heavy guard.

The case was adjourned till Monday, with Musharraf's legal team saying he would seek medical advice before deciding whether to attend.

A doctor at the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology in Rawalpindi, the garrison city bordering Islamabad, said the former ruler was in a stable condition and under observation.

An aide to the ex-general, who is facing a series of criminal cases dating back to his 1999-2008 rule, had earlier told AFP he was in “bad shape.”

His lawyers say the treason allegations, which relate to his imposition of emergency rule in November 2007, are politically motivated.

Efforts were under way to have Musharraf, currently under a government travel ban, flown out of the country, a source from his camp said.

Rumors have circulated for months that a backroom deal would be struck to whisk him out overseas before trial to avoid a destabilizing clash between the government, which brought the charges, and the powerful armed forces.

But the former commando has previously insisted he wants to stay and fight the charges.

He is Pakistan's first ex-army head to be put on trial. While there has been no public comment on the case from the military, some observers say they are reluctant to have their former chief suffer the indignity of trial in a civilian court.

The government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has repeatedly said it would not let Musharraf leave Pakistan before facing the courts.

“If the doctors advise him to go abroad for treatment, then we will seek permission from the court,” Musharraf lawyer Muhammad Ali Saif told reporters.

“The court can grant him permission to leave the country if his doctors advise so.”

Sharif was the man Musharraf ousted from power in his 1999 coup, and his lawyers have previously said the case is an attempt to settle old scores through the courts.

Some commentators have also complained it is an unnecessary distraction while the country is struggling with a bloody homegrown Taliban insurgency, crippling gas and electricity shortages and a faltering economy.

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