Can’t write letter against Zardari: Gilani’s counsel to court

March 21st, 2012 - 3:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Yousuf Raza Gilani Islamabad, March 21 (IANS) Appearing in a contempt of court case, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s counsel told the Supreme Court Wednesday that the government could not write to Swiss authorities on a corruption case against Asif Ali Zardari till he was president.

A seven-member bench of the Supreme Court Wednesday resumed contempt of court proceedings against Gilani.

Gilani’s counsel Aitzaz Ahsan said the Supreme Court order to write a letter to Swiss authorities could not be implemented until Zardari was holding the office of president of Pakistan, reported Geo News.

Reiterating the government’s stance, he said he was not asking the court to review its order but implementation was not possible because the president enjoys immunity under international law.

“Do you want to say that the PM had no malafide intention,” a judge asked.

The apex court had issued Gilani a contempt notice Jan 16.

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

The apex court had warned the government of action if its ruling on the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), which granted 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.

The same year, Swiss judicial authorities, acting on the request of the Pakistani government, had closed the money laundering case against Zardari and released $60 million frozen in Swiss accounts.

Now, Pakistan’s Supreme Court wants the case to be reopened.

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