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Pakistani PM gets 2-week more time to reopen president's graft cases

07-25-2012 15:50 BJT

ISLAMABAD, July 25 (Xinhua) -- The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Wednesday gave two-week more time to Prime Minister, Raja Pervez Ashraf, to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

The apex court had earlier set July 25 a deadline for the premier to approach the Swiss officials to reopen corruption cases against the President and to submit a compliance report.

Ashraf's predecessor, Yusuf Raza Gilani, was disqualified over contempt in June after he refused to accept the court's orders.

Gilani was first convicted of contempt in April after he refused to act on the apex court's orders to reopen the graft cases. A bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry disqualified Gilani for five years last month.

When the Supreme Court started hearing, Attorney General, Altaf Qadir, sought more time to file a review petition against the court's July 12 verdict, when it had set July 25 a deadline for compliance of the order.

Accepting the Attorney General's plea, the five-judge bench, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, adjourned the hearing until August 8, directing Prime Minister Ashraf to write to the Swiss authorities. The court also asked the Attorney General to file a review petition against the July 12 order.

Earlier the court rejected demand by Attorney General, who asked Justice Asif Saeed Khosa to quit the bench as he has prejudices against the government. The Attorney General said that whenever charges of prejudice are leveled against any judge he should quit the bench.

Justice Khosa said he would immediately quit the bench if he has any prejudice. He said judges will not do anything wrong which can harm the country. He said the judges also favor democracy and that the democratic system should move forward.

The Attorney General complained that only the prime minister is being asked to accept the court's order, adding that such orders can harm the system. He also shown concern at the court's July 12 order to the prime minister to file a compliance report by July 25. He said orders for writing letter cannot be acted upon as the federal cabinet has not yet discussed the issue.

When the court issued its order to Prime Minister Ashraf on July 12, few hours later President Zardari signed into law a bill aimed at protecting top government leaders from contempt of court proceedings and countering the court's efforts to pressure the premier to revive the graft cases in Switzerland.

The Wednesday's decision is considered a sign of relief for the prime minister for two more weeks as legal experts had earlier predicted a tough decision by the apex court similar to that for Gilani.

On Tuesday, the government told the Supreme Court that Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf cannot write a letter to Swiss authorities for reopening of graft cases against President Zardari.

The federal government insisted that the court orders to the prime minister could not be followed and that they should be withdrawn.

The court's anti-corruption department had earlier revealed that nearly 60 million U.S. dollars have been transferred to Swiss banks illegally and the money must be returned.

The Supreme Court wants the government to write to the Swiss authorities to know how the money had been transferred and who owned it and that it should be brought back.

Editor:James |Source: Xinhua

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