Pakistan’s top court Wednesday granted bail to former military ruler Pervez Musharraf over the death of a rebel leader, his lawyers said, bringing closer his possible release after nearly six months of house arrest.
Musharraf has now been granted bail in three major cases against him, including one relating to the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
His lawyer said the ruling meant he was a “free man”.
But he is likely to remain under heavy guard at his villa on the edge of Islamabad, where he has been under house arrest since April, because of serious threats to his life.
Musharraf was head of state in 2006 when the main rebel leader in the southwestern province of Baluchistan, Akbar Bugti, died during an army operation.
His lawyer Ibrahim Satti told AFP a three-member Supreme Court bench had granted bail in the Bugti case in return for surety bonds worth two million rupees ($20,000).
Another counsel for Musharraf, Qamar Afzal, said bail was granted over lack of evidence.
“Pervez Musharraf is a free man now after getting bail in the Bugti case,” he said.
The Taliban have threatened to kill the 70-year-old former general, who as president allied Pakistan with Washington in the US “war on terror” in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
Musharraf returned to Pakistan in March to run in the general election, vowing to “save” the country, but was almost immediately hit with a barrage of criminal cases dating back to his 1999-2008 rule.
As well as the Bugti and Bhutto cases, Musharraf also faces charges over the suspension of judges during emergency rule, which he imposed in 2007.