Supreme Court orders Zardari graft cases to be reopened (Lead)

March 12th, 2010 - 6:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Pervez Musharraf Islamabad, March 12 (IANS) The noose seems to be tightening around Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, with the Supreme Court saying a Swiss money laundering case against him should be immediately reopened.
At a hearing Friday, the court asked the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to immediately write to the Swiss authorities for reopening the case and also take into its custody the records related to the case lying in London, Online news agency reported.

The ruling came after the NAB submitted that it was hampered in its efforts because records relating to the case had gone missing during the tenure of then president Pervez Musharraf.

Dissatisfied with this statement, Judge Tariq Pervez said the court was not interested in individuals and asked the NAB to recover the missing records, Geo TV reported.

Judge Javed Iqbal wondered why a Supreme Court order striking down an amnesty against graft was not being implemented, adding that the prosecutor general did not seem to be interested in pursuing NAB cases.

In August 2008, Swiss judicial authorities, acting on the request of the Pakistani government, closed the money-laundering case against Zardari and released $60 million frozen in Swiss accounts.

The Pakistani government had cited the amnesty against graft promulgated by Musharraf as the reason for seeking closure of the case.

Musharraf had promulgated the amnesty, in the form of the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), primarily to enable former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and her husband Zardari, who faced a slew of corruption cases, to return home from self-imposed exile.

Some 250 other politicians, retired army officers and bureaucrats also benefited from the NRO.

The Supreme Court in December 2009 termed the NRO unconstitutional and ordered the reopening of all the cases closed after its promulgation.

Zardari and his aides have been blowing hot and cold since then. While he says he is ready to face the courts, his aides insist he enjoys presidential immunity, at least as long as he is in office.

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