ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf was granted bail Monday in a criminal case involving his alleged role in the killing of a radical Islamic cleric during a 2007 siege at a mosque.
The court decision brings Musharraf a step closer to being able to move freely about Pakistan after more than six months of house arrest. Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 coup and stepped down in 2008, must post two bonds roughly equivalent to $1,000 each. His attorneys said he plans to do so Tuesday.
The former ruler has been under house arrest since April after being charged in a string of cases related to his dictatorship, including alleged involvement in the assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto, the killing of Baluch separatist leader Akbar Bugti and detention of Pakistani judges. Over the summer, bail was granted on all those charges.
The court hearing Monday involved a murder charge against Musharraf in connection with his oversight of an eight-day siege at Islamabad’s Red Mosque in 2007, when the military sought to dislodge hard-line Islamic students barricaded inside.
The students had been terrorizing the city, targeting music stores, alleged brothels and massage parlors as part of an anti-vulgarity campaign, the government said.
About 100 people were killed in the siege, including cleric Abdul Rashid Ghazi. Prosecutors say Musharraf recklessly deployed security forces, but his attorneys argue that his role in the matter was limited.
“My client is a free man now, as he has been granted bail in the last case against him,” Ilyas Siddiqi, Musharraf’s attorney, told reporters. “Musharraf was granted bail because no proof of his involvement in the killing of Abdul Rashid Ghazi could be found.”
Musharraf has been detained at his home on the outskirts of Islamabad for months. Even with bail, his travels probably will remain limited. Under the orders of the Pakistani government, he is not allowed to leave the country. Musharraf also is facing death threats, including from Taliban militants.
Musharraf returned to Islamabad in March after years of self-imposed exile. He has vowed to remain in Pakistan and has said he may reenter politics.
“He will face all the cases, as he has been doing until now,” said Afshan Adil, a member of Musharraf’s legal team.
Tim Craig contributed to this report.