Pakistan PM indicted by Supreme Court

Pakistan Supreme Court Monday indicted Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in a contempt of court case for failing to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

There was tight security as the prime minister reached the court premises, reported Geo News. The court had issued him a contempt notice Jan 16.

Photo: AFP

Gilani had appeared before the Supreme Court Jan 19 in the contempt case for not acting against President Asif Ali Zardari for corruption and defended his move, saying that the constitution provided immunity to the president.

Gilani had then said he had spent six years in prison and had never been reluctant to appear before the court. This indicated that he had always respected the court.

The apex court had warned the government of action if its ruling on the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), granting immunity to politicians and bureaucrats in corruption cases, was not implemented by Jan 10, 2012.

The court had also sought reopening of cases closed under the NRO, struck down as void in 2009. It had ordered the government to write a letter to the Swiss authorities to reopen cases against the president.

Zardari, accused of graft, had been granted amnesty under the NRO which was issued in 2007 by then president Pervez Musharraf to facilitate the return of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and her husband Zardari.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had in 1998 accused Zardari and the late Benazir Bhutto of awarding a pre-shipment inspection contract to the Societe Generale Surveillance (SGS). This was done in return for six percent commission on the total amount the company received from the Pakistan government, it claimed.

Earlier in August 2008, Swiss judicial authorities, acting on the request of the Pakistani government, had closed a money laundering case against Zardari and released $60 million frozen in Swiss accounts.The prime minister could be jailed if he is convicted.

Next hearing of the case has been scheduled on February 27.

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