Reopen graft cases against Zardari: Pak SC to Gilani

Last Updated: Thursday, March 8, 2012 - 21:40

Islamabad: Pakistan`s Supreme Court on Thursday directed Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to ask Swiss
authorities to revive graft cases against President Asif Ali
Zardari and to submit a report on the issue on March 21.

The apex court said in an order that Gilani should write
a letter to the Swiss authorities without waiting to seek the
advice of his legal experts.

It asked him to file a report giving details of the
action taken by him at the next hearing.

A seven-judge bench led by Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk said
contempt proceedings initiated against Gilani for failing to
act on the court?s earlier orders to revive the cases against
Zardari would continue simultaneously.

The bench asked Gilani to record his detailed response to
the contempt proceedings by March 21, failing which final
arguments in the case would get underway.

The bench issued this direction after Attorney General
Anwar-ul-Haq, the prosecutor for the case, cross-examined
Cabinet Secretary Nargis Sethi, who is appearing as a witness.

Emerging from the hearing, Gilani`s lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan
told reporters that the bench had asked the premier to submit
a detailed statement by March 19 or to appear in person and
record his statement on March 21.

"If he (Gilani) does not submit a statement, arguments
will commence on March 21. If he makes a statement, the final
arguments will begin from March 21," Ahsan said.

The Supreme Court recently indicted Gilani for contempt
of court after he refused to act on orders to reopen cases of
alleged money laundering against President Asif Ali Zardari in
Switzerland.

The apex court has been pressuring the government to
revive the cases against Zardari since December 2009, when it
struck down the National Reconciliation Ordinance, a graft
amnesty issued by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

The government has refused to act, saying the President
enjoys complete immunity from prosecution within Pakistan and
abroad.

Ahsan contended that the prosecution had not proved its
case as it had only produced the Supreme Court’s past orders.

"As long as a person is President, he cannot be pushed
before a judge in a foreign country," he remarked.

The premier was advised by officials that the cases
against Zardari could not be reopened, he said.

Subsequently, Gilani wrote to officials that the Supreme
Court should be taken into confidence on the government’s view
but the court did not take up for over a year, he said.

"It was only in January 2012 that the Supreme Court took
up the issue. People can sharpen their knives but we have
genuinely proved our case. We have a good case," he said.

If convicted, Gilani could be jailed for six months and
face the possibility of being disqualified.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, March 8, 2012 - 13:45

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