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Thursday, March 18, 1999 Published at 17:20 GMT

World: South Asia

Bhutto case to re-open

Benazir Bhutto's plea said the court had shown unnecessary haste

Zaffar Abbas reports from Islamabad

The Supreme Court in Pakistan has instructed the high court bench trying Benazir Bhutto and her husband, Asif Zardari, on counts of corruption to re-open the case.

The decision effectively postpones a verdict in one of several corruption cases against the former prime minister.

The special Accountability Bench of the High Court, in Rawalpindi City, announced on Wednesday that it was going to announce a verdict on Monday.

Immediately after that decision, Benazir Bhutto moved a petition in the Supreme Court asking for release.

She took the plea that the Accountability Court had shown unnecessary haste and had even refused to record her evidence.

The Supreme Court was quick to respond and instructed the bench to re-open the case.

Repeated denials

The new hearing will focus on recording more evidence from the defence.

The Supreme Court also asked the Accountability Court to reconsider its decision of turning down most of the defence witnesses.

The Accountability Bench will have to record Miss Bhutto's statement and may even have to call some of the defence witnesses before announcing its verdict.

The former prime minister and her husband are presently facing several cases of corruption and misuse of power.

Miss Bhutto has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing during her stint in power.

But the present government insists there was widespread corruption at the official level in the previous government.

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