Pakistani Prime Minister to Be Indicted for Contempt

Posted February 2nd, 2012 at 5:25 am (UTC-5)
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Pakistan's Supreme Court has ordered Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani to appear in court February 13 to be indicted for contempt of court.

The court announced its decision Thursday in a longstanding battle over Mr. Gilani's refusal to ask a Swiss court to reopen corruption charges against Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.

The prime minister has long refused to request that the case be reopened, arguing instead that Mr. Zardari has legal immunity while in office.

Mr. Gilani's lawyer says he will appeal the contempt charges, which is possible before conviction, under Pakistani law. If Mr. Gilani is found guilty of contempt, he could lose his office and face jail time.

Mr. Gilani last appeared before the Supreme Court January 19, amid tight security and increased tensions between the government and the country's fiercely independent judiciary.

Prosecutors accuse Mr. Zardari and his wife, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, of laundering millions of dollars through Swiss bank accounts. But the initial, decade-old case was dropped after a 2007 amnesty deal designed to promote national reconciliation.

Two years ago, the Supreme Court canceled the amnesty agreement that protected Mr. Zardari and thousands of others from prosecution.