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'Drop cases against Zardari'

world Updated: Mar 15, 2008 18:30 IST

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The Pakistan government has written to Swiss authorities to withdraw money-laundering cases filed a decade ago against PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and his slain wife, former premier Benazir Bhutto.

The prosecutor general of Pakistan's National Accountability Bureau and the Attorney General have written letters to Swiss courts and authorities for dropping the cases that were registered in 1998 under an understanding for international mutual legal assistance, Geo News channel quoted official sources as saying on Saturday.

In addition to money laundering charges, Zardari and Bhutto had been accused of stashing some $72 million allegedly earned as kickbacks in controversial deals during her second term as prime minister in Swiss banks.

The Pakistani authorities sent the letters on Friday, the sources said.

The move came after Pakistani anti-corruption courts dropped all seven graft cases filed against Zardari in line with an order issued by the Supreme Court last month.

The apex court has upheld the National Reconciliation Ordinance, a controversial law passed in October last year by President Pervez Musharraf to grant amnesty in graft cases to PPP leaders, including Zardari and Bhutto.

Zardari, who has maintained that the charges against him were politically motivated, spent over eight year in prison following his arrest in connection with the graft cases.

The Sindh High Court too had issued an order to the attorney general and the NAB to withdraw proceedings against Zardari in courts in Britain and Switzerland by March 21, failing which they would be liable for contempt proceedings.