Pakistan's ex-president exempted from court attendance

Former Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari is on trial for corruption.

Pakistan's ex-president exempted from court attendance

World Bulletin / News Desk

An accountability court on Saturday granted exemption to former Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari from appearance in five corruption cases on security grounds.

The court also summoned the anti-corruption authorities on February 3, 2014 on an application filed by the corruption-tainted former president seeking acquittal in the corruption cases.

Farooq Hamid Naek, a counsel for Mr. Zardari, and a former chairman of Senate, submitted before the one-member court that his client had been facing serious security threats from different groups, therefore he should be granted exemption from appearance.

He although did not cite name of any specific group, he was indirectly pointing finger at the Taliban who threatened the former president during election campaign for May 2013 general elections.

The defense counsel also submitted that there were no evidences or witnesses against his client, therefore, he should be acquitted from charges of corruption.

After hearing his arguments, the judge granted exemption to the former president and issued notice to the authorities of National Accountability Bureau (NAB), an institution constituted by former military dictator General Pervez Musharraf in 2002 to fight corruption, for submission of their arguments on Mr. Zardari’s application for acquittal.

The NAB had reopened five corruption cases against Mr. Zardari in October 2013 following the appointment of a new NAB chairman.

The NAB chairman, according to constitution, is appointed with the consent of the opposition leader in a bid to minimize chances of political victimization.

According to the constitution, the president who is termed head of the state, enjoys immunity from appearing before any court of law.

Various corruption cases against Mr. Zardari had been pending from August 2008 to September 2012 because of the respective clause.

Mr. Zardari's term ended on September 8 last year. He became the first ever democratically elected president who has completed his constitutional term in the 66-year-old history of this South Asian nuclear nation.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 18 Ocak 2014, 14:31