Gilani’s appeal in contempt case rejected by apex court

February 10th, 2012 - 3:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Yousuf Raza Gilani Islamabad, Feb 10 (IANS) Pakistan’s Supreme Court Friday rejected an appeal by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani against appearing before it on contempt charges, his defence lawyer said.

The appeal was rejected by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who led an eight-member bench.

Gilani will now appear before the court Feb 13 to be formally charged with failing to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari, barrister Aitzaz Ahsan said.

“Our appeal has been rejected,” Ahsan was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

If convicted, the prime minister faces six months in prison and risks losing his parliamentary seat. He may also be slapped with a five-year ban from holding any public office.

According to the Dawn, Gilani has refused to write to Swiss authorities to reopen a corruption case against Zardari, arguing that the president enjoys immunity under the constitution.

Accused of graft, Zardari had been granted amnesty under the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) in 2007 by then president Pervez Musharraf to facilitate his return and, primarily, that of his wife, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

The NRO that granted immunity to politicians and bureaucrats in corruption cases was struck down as void in 2009.

The apex court warned the government of action if its ruling on the NRO was not implemented by Jan 10, 2012. It further ordered the government to write a letter to the Swiss authorities to reopen cases against Zardari.

On Jan 16, the court issued Gilani a contempt notice for not acting against Zardari.

Throughout Friday’s hearing, Ahsan provided the court with citation from various cases pertaining to contempt of court charges. However, the chief justice dismissed his arguments, saying that the precedents mentioned were of civil nature whereas the current case was of “criminal nature”.

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