Pakistan Braces for Showdown Between PM and Supreme Court

Posted April 25th, 2012 at 8:45 am (UTC-5)
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Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani says he will face the country's Supreme Court Thursday, when it is set to announce the verdict in a contempt case against him.

Mr. Gilani told his Cabinet on Wednesday that he will appear before the court. Information Minister Rehman Malik then said the entire Cabinet would accompany the prime minister to Thursday's hearing in a show of support.

Mr. Gilani was charged in February for defying a Supreme Court order to reopen an old corruption case against President Asif Ali Zardari.

If convicted, the prime minister faces up to six months in prison and removal from office.

The development is the latest in an ongoing battle between the court and the prime minister over the status of corruption cases dating back to the 1990s.

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 Mr. Zardari and the others were 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 the president has legal immunity while in office.