Pakistan's former strongman Pervez Musharraf was formally indicted along with seven other people on Tuesday of conspiring to assassinate former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007.
Musharraf, who has been under house arrest since April, appeared Tuesday before the Anti-terrorist Court in Rawalpindi and denied the charges of conspiracy and terrorism.
Among the other seven people accused of arranging Bhutto's death are two former top police officials who are currently imprisoned for their alleged involvement in the slaying.
Bhutto died in an as yet unclarified December 2007 attack shortly after returning to the country from exile, and Musharraf has been linked to the assassination from the very start, although his leaving the country in 2009 temporarily stymied judicial proceedings.
The former general, who first came to power in a 1999 coup, stepped down in 2008 under threat of impeachment and amid burgeoning domestic opposition. He subsequently went into self-imposed exile to escape his myriad legal troubles.
Musharraf returned to Pakistan in the spring with plans to run for parliament, but the electoral commission barred his candidacy and the courts revived the cases against him that had been put aside during his absence.
No previous Pakistani military ruler has been indicted.
A prosecutor in the case quoted by Dunya television said that Musharraf is facing the death penalty if convicted.
The trial, which will continue next week, is expected to be quite lengthy since, apart from the complexities of the case, it will put to the test Pakistan's institutional stability and the loyalty of the army, which to date has been respectful of the judicial proceedings against its ex-commander. EFE