Pakistan Court Rejects Prime Minister’s Appeal

Posted February 10th, 2012 at 2:55 am (UTC-5)
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Pakistan's highest court has rejected an appeal by the prime minister on contempt of court charges.

The Supreme Court Friday upheld a summons for Yousuf Raza Gilani to appear in court Monday to face the charges for the government's refusal to ask Swiss authorities to reopen graft cases against Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari. If found guilty, Mr. Gilani could be removed from office and sent to prison.

Prosecutors accuse President Zardari, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and others of laundering millions of dollars through Swiss bank accounts. Ms. Bhutto, President Zardari's wife, was assassinated in 2007.

Charges against President Zardari and the others were initially dropped after a 2007 amnesty agreement, but the court struck down the deal in 2009 and has been battling to reopen the cases ever since.

Prime Minister Gilani has refused to cooperate, arguing instead that Mr. Zardari has legal immunity while in office. But he told Parliament last week he respects the court and will appear for Monday's hearing.

The outcome of Monday's hearing is being watched closely, amid rising tensions between the government and the military, which has ruled Pakistan for most of its existence since independence from Britain in 1947.