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Tuesday, 23 November, 1999, 21:13 GMT
UK may help Pakistan Bhutto probe
Benazir Bhutto and Asif Zardari were convicted before the military takeover

By South Asia analyst Alistair Lawson

The British Government says it has been approached by Pakistan's military government for more information about the alleged purchase of a $9m mansion by Asif Zardari, husband of the former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

Pakistan in crisis
A spokesman said British Home Secretary Jack Straw would decide soon whether to release the documents, which Pakistan says could reveal whether or not Mr Zardari bought the house using funds acquired from corrupt deals while his wife was in power.

Mr Zardari is currently in prison in Pakistan for other corruption offences. His wife has also been convicted of corruption, although she has not returned to the country since she was found guilty.

General Syed Mohammad Amjad heads Pakistan's anti-corruption unit
The deposed government of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif alleged that Mr Zardari and Miss Bhutto bought the house with money that had been laundered out of Pakistan.

Its request to the British Government to hand over paperwork relating to the purchase was put on hold by the British authorities following last month's military takeover in Pakistan.

The Home Office in London said it was re-considering whether to hand over the documentation.

Miss Bhutto has strenuously denied that she or her husband own the nine-bedroom mansion, known as Rockwood House, set in 300 acres of countryside in the county of Surrey.

They argue that the allegations levelled against them are politically motivated.

The British Home Office is widely expected to hand over the documents, although officials have asked Pakistan to provide more details of the nature of the paperwork that is required.

Meanwhile, the row over Rockwood House has hit the British courts.

On Wednesday, a builder who says he carried out thousands of dollars worth of renovation work there resumes legal action against a business associate of Mr Zardari for alleged non-payment of bills.

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See also:
23 Nov 99 |  South Asia
Sharif's daughter pleads for his life
17 Nov 99 |  South Asia
Bhutto declared fugitive
15 Apr 99 |  South Asia
Jail sentence for Bhutto
10 Nov 99 |  South Asia
Sharif charged with murder plot
17 Nov 99 |  South Asia
MP says Pakistan's ex-premier 'depressed'

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