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Page last updated at 16:59 GMT, Sunday, 2 August 2009 17:59 UK

Swat deal broker cleric 'charged'

Sufi Muhammad
If convicted Sufi Muhammad could face the death penalty

Pakistan is to prosecute a radical Islamic cleric who helped negotiate a failed truce between the government and the Taliban in the Swat valley.

Sufi Muhammad brokered a peace deal in February that saw Sharia law imposed in the valley in return for an end to Taliban attacks in the area.

But it collapsed in April, leading to the army's offensive on the Taliban which displaced two million people.

Sufi Muhammad is charged with sedition, aiding terrorism and conspiracy.

The charges carry a minimum penalty of life imprisonment and could result in the death penalty.

They relate to a speech given by Sufi Muhammad - who is the father-in-law of the Swat Taliban's leader Maulana Fazullah - in April.

In it he allegedly condemned both democracy and elections, claiming Pakistan's constitution was un-Islamic.

'Instigated the masses'

The Associated Press quoted Swat police chief Sajid Mohmand saying: "It is tantamount to threatening the sovereignty of Pakistan.

"We have recordings of all of his speeches where he had instigated masses against the government of Pakistan and its institutions."

Although skirmishes are still continuing in the Swat valley, Pakistan claims to have defeated the Taliban with its offensive.

But while Pakistan claims to have wounded Maulana Fazullah, none of the Taliban's regional commanders has been proved to have been captured or killed.



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