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Pakistan: SC begins hearing on contempt case

Pakistan's Supreme Court today began hearing an intra-court appeal filed by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who had been summoned on February 13 for framing of charges against him in a contempt case over his failure to reopen graft cases against the President.

world Updated: Feb 09, 2012 12:11 IST

Pakistan's Supreme Court on Thursday began hearing an intra-court appeal filed by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who had been summoned on February 13 for framing of charges against him in a contempt case over his failure to reopen graft cases against the President.

The eight-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry began hearing the appeal filed by Gilani's lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan seeking suspension of the order summoning him.

In the appeal, Ahsan asked the apex court to suspend its decision summoning the Premier.

Ahsan told reporters outside the court on Wednesday that he had based the appeal on precedents set by apex courts in India, Australia, Britain, France and the US.

"It depends on the court to stay the proceedings and decide against summoning the Prime Minister on February 13," he said.

The appeal asked the court to postpone the indictment, saying the ruling was issued without Gilani being given an opportunity to defend himself directly.

On February 2, a seven-judge bench of the apex court had summoned Gilani to appear on February 13 to be indicted for contempt over his failure to act on its order to pursue corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

If Gilani is convicted of contempt, he could be jailed for up to six months and disqualified from holding public office for five years.

The Supreme Court has been pressuring the government to revive cases of alleged money laundering against Zardari in Switzerland since it struck down a graft amnesty issued by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in December 2009.

The government has refused to reopen the cases against Zardari, saying the President enjoys complete immunity from prosecution in criminal cases in Pakistan and abroad.