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Zardari graft cases disposed off in Switzerland: Govt to SC

world Updated: Jun 08, 2010 01:24 IST

The Pakistan government yesterday informed the Supreme Court that graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari in Switzerland had been disposed off and no request could be made for their revival under Swiss laws.

The government conveyed its stance in a statement submitted to the apex court by its counsel Kamal Azfar. Since the apex court annulled a graft amnesty issued by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, it has been pressing the government to reopen cases against Zardari.

The government has maintained that Zardari enjoys immunity from prosecution by virtue of holding the post of President. Zardari's aides and government lawyers have also said that the government will not approach Swiss authorities to revive cases against him related to the alleged laundering of 60 million dollars.

The statement filed by Azfar sought a review of various aspects of the Supreme Court's order of last year that struck down the National Reconciliation Ordinance, the graft amnesty issued by Musharraf as part of a secret understanding with slain former premier Benazir Bhutto.

The statement said that the apex court had been apprised that proceedings pending in Switzerland against Bhutto, her mother Nusrat Bhutto, Zardari and others had already been disposed off on merit. These cases were not closed on the basis of a letter written by former Attorney General Malik Qayyum and the decision was made by the Prosecutor General of Geneva in 2008, it said.

The investigation in Switzerland was closed by the Prosecutor General "mainly on account of the evidence recorded by the Swiss authorities" the statement said. It added that "no case whatsoever is pending which can be legally revived." Asking the court to consider this aspect, the statement said it would be an exercise in futility to contact the Swiss authorities while knowing that the cases cannot be revived.

It also said the original request made in 1997 by Pakistani authorities to the Swiss government to launch proceedings against Zardari was "illegal".

The statement further said that the apex court had erred in ordering the reopening of cases in Switzerland and Pakistan. It was against the generally accepted principle of law for a person to be prosecuted for the same offense more than once, it said. There are no pending cases in Switzerland as only a criminal investigation into accusations of money laundering was opened by Swiss authorities under Swiss law at their own initiative, it said.

A 17-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry adjourned till Wednesday the hearing of a set of petitions seeking a review of its verdict that scrapped the NRO.