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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 March 2008, 12:52 GMT
Court drops cases against Zardari
Asif Ali Zardari
Mr Zardari spent several years in jail on corruption charges
A Pakistani court has dropped five corruption cases against Asif Ali Zardari, the husband of assassinated ex-PM Benazir Bhutto, his lawyer says.

The ruling also reportedly unfreezes Mr Zardari's financial assets.

The court move follows a deal agreed with President Pervez Musharraf in October, that gave the Bhuttos immunity from prosecution in the cases.

Ms Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) won the most votes in recent polls and is set to form a government.

Although he is an influential figure in the PPP, Mr Zardari has ruled himself out as a candidate for prime minister in the new coalition administration.

Allah has differentiated truth from lies and justice has been done
Farooq Naik
Asif Ali Zardari's lawyer

The election delivered a huge blow to the President Musharraf's main allies in parliament, who are now expected to form the opposition.

Ms Bhutto ended several years of voluntary exile and returned to Pakistan late last year, after the agreement to exempt her and her husband from further prosecution in the corruption cases.

She was killed in a gun and bomb attack in late December, after addressing a rally in the city of Rawalpindi.

'Draconian laws'

The corruption cases against Mr Zardari stem from Ms Bhutto's two terms as prime minister.

He spent eight years in prison over the charges and was freed on bail in late 2004.

"Allah has differentiated truth from lies and justice has been done," Mr Zardari's lawyer, Farooq Naik, said after Wednesday's court ruling in the city of Rawalpindi.

"Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari were the victims of Draconian laws, but today all cases have finished like the dark, old night," he said.

In Pakistan, another two cases against Mr Zardari remain outstanding. They will be heard in another court on 12 March.

Mr Naik told the BBC he expected those cases to be dismissed as well.

He also said the amnesty deal agreed with the government last year requires it to abandon by 21 March two further cases filed against Mr Zardari in the UK and Switzerland.





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