`Letter to Swiss` can end contempt: SC to Gilani

Pak govt has refused to reopen the cases against Zardari, saying the he enjoys complete immunity from prosecution in criminal cases in Pakistan and abroad.

Last Updated: Feb 09, 2012, 12:21 PM IST

Islamabad: Pakistan`s Supreme Court on Thursday
said contempt of court proceedings against Prime Minister
Yousuf Raza Gilani would automatically end if the chief
executive wrote a letter to Swiss authorities to reopen graft
cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry made the remarks while
hearing Gilani`s appeal against an order summoning him on
February 13 for the framing of charges in a contempt of court
case for refusing to revive the cases against Zardari.

Chaudhry observed that the proceedings against Gilani
would end if he wrote a letter to the Swiss authorities to
reopen cases of alleged money laundering against Zardari.

The person involved in these cases is the head of the
Prime Minister`s party but no one is above the law, Chaudhry
said.

The USD 60 million that was allegedly laundered will come
back to Pakistan only if the letter is written to Swiss
authorities, the bench said.

The eight-judge bench further directed Gilani`s lawyer
Aitzaz Ahsan to remove some "objectionable" paragraphs from
Gilani`s appeal.

In these paragraphs, Gilani had questioned the contempt
case initiated against him even though he had freed several
top judges who had been detained by the regime of former
military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

Ahsan yesterday filed Gilani`s appeal against a different
bench`s order summoning him on February 13 for the framing on
contempt of court charges.

The 200-page appeal pointed out more than 50 legal and
constitutional points which support the view that the premier
did not go against the Constitution by not reopening the cases
against Zardari.

The Supreme Court has been pressuring the government to
revive cases of alleged money laundering against Zardari in
Switzerland since December 2009, when it struck down a graft
amnesty issued by Musharraf.

The government has refused to reopen the cases against
Zardari, saying the President enjoys complete immunity from
prosecution in criminal cases in Pakistan and abroad.

Commentators have accused the apex court of bias, saying
it had taken virtually no action against the more than 8,000
other people who had benefited from Musharraf`s graft amnesty.

During today`s proceedings, the Chief Justice questioned
Ahsan on how he could include paragraphs in the appeal which
said a contempt case had been initiated against a Prime
Minister who helped in restoring deposed judges.

Ahsan said if a contempt case was initiated against him,
he too would have taken the same stance in view of his
struggles for restoring judges who were deposed by Musharraf.

Ahsan said Gilani was appearing before the court in a
personal capacity and if he was convicted, it would be Gilani
who would be sent to jail and not the Prime Minister.

However, the Chief Justice contended that a Prime
Minister should have high ethical standards and the language
of Gilani`s appeal gave the impression that he wanted to
influence the court`s judgment.

Ahsan insisted that Gilani should get the benefit of the
doubt.

PTI