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Wednesday, November 18, 1998 Published at 08:22 GMT

World: South Asia

Bhutto 'served indictment'

Benazir Bhutto: Accused of corruption

By Pakistan Correspondent Owen Bennett-Jones

Officials leading the corruption investigation into the former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto say she has now been served with an indictment drawn up by the Swiss authorities.

The Swiss indicted Benazir Bhutto back in August, but despite repeated attempts the Pakistani authorities failed to serve that indictment on her as she would never accept the documentation.

Pakistan was then advised by the Swiss that it would be sufficient to read out some lines of the indictment in Benazir Bhutto's presence.

A magistrate was dispatched to Islamabad airport to carry out the task.

'Words went unheard'

But a spokesman for Benazir Bhutto says that the indictment has still not been served because when the opposition leader disembarked from her plane the welcome was so loud that no one could hear the indictment being read out.

But as far as the Pakistani authorities are concerned, the job has now been done.

Benazir Bhutto and her husband are accused of taking illegal commissions on government contracts and then putting the money in Swiss accounts.

They both deny the charges. The Pakistani government was anxious to serve the indictment because it would like to see Benazir Bhutto face a trial in Switzerland.

But the Swiss magistrate handling the case says that a decision on whether there will be a trial in Switzerland will only be taken after his investigations are complete.

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