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Pakistan's PM convicted of contempt of court

Publication Date : 27-04-2012

 

Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday was convicted of contempt of court and sentenced until the rising of the court, DawnNews reported.

A seven-judge bench of the court, headed by Justice Nasirul Mulk, announced the verdict in the contempt of court case.

The premier was convicted and sentenced under Article 5 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance (Ordinance 5 of 2003) the constitution.

“For reasons to be recorded later, the prime minister is found guilty of contempt for wilfully flouting the direction of the Supreme Court,” said Justice Nasirul Mulk.

The sentencing lasted for 30 seconds. The prime minister remained standing for 30 seconds after the announcement of judgment. He could have been sentenced to a maximum sentence of six months in prison, but the court ordered him to be “imprisoned” until the hearing adjourned.

A visibly dejected prime minister, accompanied by his sons, after hearing the verdict shook hands with his team and members of the federal cabinet.

A meeting of the federal cabinet will commence at 11:30. At 2:00pm, a meeting of allied parties will start at the president’s house.

Federal minister Firdous Ashiq Awan said a petition would be filed in the court for a review of the verdict. She added that further course of action would be decided once the detailed verdict is received.

Gohar Khan, assistant to Aitzaz Ahsan, and a member of the prime minister’s legal team also said that a review petition would be filed.

Nasirul Mulk said the conviction was “likely to entail serious consequences” for Gilani.

Nawaz Sharif, chief of the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz, says the prime minister should resign in the wake of his conviction.

A special session of the federal cabinet began. The meeting was discussing the court’s verdict against the prime minister.

Addressing a press conference, Aitzaz Ahsan said the prime minister was not disqualified after the verdict and that an appeal challenging the decision would soon be filed.

Alliance parties were meeting at the Aiwan-i-Sadr in Islamabad to discuss the verdict against Prime Minister Gilani.

Politicians, lawyers and journalists were also present in the court for the hearing.

Government officials and dignitaries present at the court included Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Masood Kausar, Defence Minister Ahmad Mukhtar, Presidential Spokesperson  Farhatullah Babar, political secretary to the party co-chairman Rukhsana Bangash and Attorney General Irfan Qadir.

Gilani is the longest-serving prime minister in the history of Pakistan.

The source of the current conflict is a graft case against President Asif Ali Zardari that involves kickbacks he and his late wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, allegedly received from companies when Bhutto was in power in the 1990s. They were found guilty in absentia in a Swiss court in 2003.

Zardari appealed, but Swiss prosecutors ended up dropping the case in 2008 after the Pakistani government approved an ordinance giving the president and others immunity from old corruption cases.

The Supreme Court ruled the ordinance unconstitutional in 2009 and ordered the government to write a letter to Swiss authorities requesting they reopen the case against Zardari. Gilani has refused, saying the constitution grants the president immunity from criminal prosecution while in office.

 

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