Former Pakistani leader General Pervez Musharraf has been sentenced to death on charges of high treason and subverting the constitution.

The 76-year-old served as president from 2001 until 2008 after seizing power in a military coup in 1999.

His decision to suspend the constitution and impose emergency rule in 2007 led to mass protests, forcing him to quit to avoid impeachment and later flee abroad.

Protesters burn images of Musharraf and then PM Nawaz Sharif in 2016
Image: Protesters burn images of Musharraf and Nawaz Sharif in 2016

Gen Musharraf, who is still in Dubai after going there for medical treatment three years ago, was handed the death sentence after being found guilty on Tuesday.

A decision had been a long time coming, having been pending since 2013 when the trial was launched by the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Mr Sharif had returned to power that year having been ousted by the Musharraf-led coup, and was PM for nine years before being booted out himself by the Supreme Court.

He was removed from office in 2017 after his links to several offshore firms were exposed in the Panama Papers.

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The ruling against Gen Musharraf, whose rivalry with Mr Sharif began over the role of the army in the Kargil War with India, was made by a three-man panel and confirmed by a government law officer.

“Pervez Musharraf has been found guilty of Article 6 for violation of the constitution of Pakistan,” they said.

Musharraf was a supporter of George W Bush's war on terror
Image: Gen Musharraf was a supporter of George W Bush’s war on terror

No comment has been offered by Gen Musharraf, whose popularity at home was not helped by his support of the US war on terror launched by George W Bush after the 9/11 attacks.

He went on to survive two al Qaeda-inspired assassination attempts in December 2003.

Gen Musharraf has repeatedly refused requests to appear in court during his trial and is unlikely to leave Dubai.

Any appeals process would require him to return to Pakistan.

The current prime minister, Imran Khan, has also not commented on the court verdict and his information minister said he would “review it in detail” before doing so.