Zardari to face graft cases at end of term next month
Islamabad: Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari will have to face several old corruption cases when he loses his immunity from prosecution at the end of his five-year term next month, a government official said on Monday.
The end of immunity after Zardari leaves office on September 8 will trigger the reopening of six corruption cases in the second week of next month, said the government official, who did not want to be named.
"Now these cases will be reopened and heard at accountability court No 1 in Islamabad," the official, privy to developments about these cases, told a news agency.
The accountability courts hear cases registered by the National Accountability Bureau, the country`s anti-corruption agency.
The cases against Zardari including the ARY Gold, Cotecna, SGS, Polo Ground, Ursus Tractor and Assets cases. The charges date back to his slain wife Benazir Bhutto`s two stints as Prime Minister.
They were being heard in three anti-corruption courts in Rawalpindi but were put off indefinitely when Zardari was elected President in 2008.
However, the official admitted that the conviction of Zardari will be difficult as the main accused - Benazir Bhutto and her mother Begum Nusrat Bhutto - are dead and their names have been removed from the list of accused.
The official said another 15 people accused along with Zardari have already been acquitted during the past five years.
Zardari will have to face trial in order to prove his innocence and get a clean chit from the courts, he said.
The cases may cause political unrest as opposition parties, including Zardari`s Pakistan People`s Party, are likely to use them to claim they are being victimised by the PML-N government led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who instituted these cases during his earlier tenure in the late 1990s.
The previous PPP-led government was last year forced by the Supreme Court to write to Swiss authorities to reopen a charge of alleged money laundering against Zardari. However, the Swiss government officially informed Pakistan earlier this year that it could not revive the case as the matter was time-barred.
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