Gilani acquitted of corruption charges

February 4th, 2009 - 8:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Feb 4 (IANS) The Islamabad High Court Wednesday acquitted Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in two corruption cases going back to the 1990s, saying the evidence against him was insufficient.In its verdict, a two-member bench headed by Chief Justice Sardar Aslam said the allegations against Gilani had been proven wrong and that the evidence presented in court was also weak.

On Feb 11, 2001, a National Accountability Court (NAB) had sentenced Gilani to a 10-year jail term and fined him Rs.100 million on two charges.

One of these was illegally recruiting 600 people to the National Assembly Secretariat during his 1993-96 tenure as speaker of the lower house of parliament and thus inflicting an annual loss of Rs.30 million to the exchequer.

In another case, he was charged with using public money to purchase 15 luxury cars that he put to personal use.

Gilani’s lawyers challenged the conviction and on Oct 7, 2006, the Rawalpindi bench of the Lahore High Court granted him bail in both cases and ordered his release on two sureties of Rs.1 million each.

These appeals had, thereafter, been pending before the Islamabad High Court, which had reserved its verdict Tuesday after hearing arguments from both sides.

Former military dictator Pervez Musharraf had established the NAB as an anti-corruption watchdog soon after seizing power in October 1999.

The NAB, however, is now likely to lose much of its teeth with President Asif Ali Zardari approving an amendment to remove politicians from its purview and make parliament responsible for their actions.

This issue will now be debated in the cabinet that Gilani heads before an ordinance is issued to give effect to the amendments.

The NAB was established under the National Accountability Ordinance that parliament never ratified. Thus, parliament would not have to approve the proposed amendments.

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