Pakistani court upholds death sentence

A court on Tuesday rejected an appeal filed by a low-ranking Pakistan serviceman of his conviction and death sentence in connection with a plot to kill the country's leader,

The suspect, Mushtaq Ahmad, was among several civilians and junior soldiers arrested weeks after al-Qaida-linked Islamic militants allegedly tried to blow up President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's motorcade Dec. 14, 2003, in Rawalpindi, a city near the capital, Islamabad.

In 2004, he was sentenced to death by a military court after a trial at an undisclosed location.

On Tuesday, Ahmad's lawyer Mohammed Akram said the Lahore High Court had rejected his client's appeal and upheld the death sentence against him.

He would give no further details.

Musharraf, who made Pakistan a key ally of the United States in its war on terror after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, has survived at least three known assassination attempts, all blamed on al-Qaida linked militants.

Although Musharraf escaped the Dec. 14, 2003 attack, at least 16 people, mostly the president's police guards, were killed when suicide bombers tried to ram two explosives-laden vehicles into his limousine on Dec. 25, not far away from the scene of the first attack.

Since then, military courts have convicted several suspects, including soldiers, in the attack. One soldier was hanged last year at a prison in the eastern Punjab province, reports the AP.

I.L.