An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan on Tuesday indicted former military ruler Pervez Musharraf on charges of conspiracy to murder late opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, officials said.

It was the first time that any of the four Generals who have ruled Pakistan have been indicted.

A formal trial could begin any time. If convicted, Musharraf could face a maximum sentence of death or life imprisonment, a prosecution lawyer said.

Musharraf pleaded not guilty when the judge in Rawalpindi city near the capital Islamabad read out the charge-sheet against him.

The former strongman, under house arrest at his farmhouse in Islamabad for more than three months, was taken to the court under tight security.

There had been some doubt whether police would produce him in the court due to death threats by Islamist militants.

Taliban insurgents had said in recent weeks that they would send suicide bombers to kill Musharraf.

The expected indictment was temporarily postponed at an August 6 hearing because Police did not take Musharraf to court due to a specific threat.

Defence lawyer Ahmed Raza Kasuri said his client would fight the charges.

Bhutto, who was twice elected Prime Minister, was assassinated in a gun and bomb attack in December 2007.

There are concerns that the trial could widen mistrust between the civilian Government and the powerful military.

(This article was published on August 20, 2013)
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