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Pak court acquits Zardari in two corruption cases

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari

Islamabad, Dec 12 (PTI) Pakistan’s former president and opposition PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari was today acquitted in two corruption cases by an accountability court.

Zardari, 59, was named in the ARY Gold and Ursus Tractor corruption cases in the 1990s during the former government of Nawaz Sharif. The court here acquitted him in the two cases, but he is still facing charges in two more cases known as SGS and Cotecna dating back to the same period.

The other two cases will be heard on December 17. Zardari, the co-chairman of Pakistan People’s Party, spent years behind the bars before being released by former military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf in 2004.

After his release from jail, Zardari left Pakistan and spent most of time in the US and UAE before returning home after the assassination of his wife Benazir Bhutto 2007. During his regime, Musharraf through a political deal with Bhutto called National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) cancelled all corruption cases against the couple, as she was also nominated with Zardari in several cases.

The Supreme Court in 2009 declared the NRO as illegal and all cases were revived, including five against Zardari.

But the court failed to prosecute the former president as he was enjoying immunity. However, all the co-accused in the five corruption cases were acquitted during the tenure of his government.

The accountability court reopened the references after expiry of the term of Zardari in October last year.

The former president, however, filed applications for acquittal without facing trial after he appeared in the accountability court earlier this year. He has already been declared innocent in Polo ground case.

Experts believe that since all co-accused were already declared innocent and one of the key accused Bhutto was dead, Zardari will easily wriggle out of the remaining two cases, closing one of the most tenuous political chapter in Pakistan.

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