Page last updated at 15:41 GMT, Wednesday, 31 March 2010 16:41 UK

Pakistan to ask Switzerland to reopen Zardari cases

Pakistan President Zardari
Mr Zardari has been dogged by corruption claims over the years

Pakistan's anti-corruption agency is to ask Switzerland to reopen corruption cases against President Asif Zardari.

The move came after Pakistan's Supreme Court said it would jail the head of the agency if he did not take action.

Mr Zardari and his late wife, former PM Benazir Bhutto, were convicted by a Swiss court in a $15m money-laundering case in 2003. They denied the charges.

Swiss prosecutors now say they cannot reopen the case because Mr Zardari has legal immunity as a head of state.

Pakistan dropped the Swiss case soon after Mr Zardari's Pakistan People's Party came to power in 2008. He and his wife had appealed against the conviction.

An amnesty protecting Mr Zardari and other top officials from prosecution in Pakistan was annulled by the Supreme Court in December.

Court pressure

The court has been demanding corruption cases be reopened ever since, several of them involving Mr Zardari.

Before taking office, he spent years in jail after corruption charges he says were politically motivated.

On Tuesday, Pakistan's Supreme Court threatened to jail the head of the country's anti-corruption agency unless he reopened hundreds of corruption cases.

It said the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman Naveed Ahsan would be in contempt of court if he did not act within 24 hours.

"In light of directions of the court on the revival of the Swiss cases, the NAB has initiated the process," Abid Zuberi, a lawyer for the agency, told the court on Wednesday.

The Swiss Justice Ministry said it had yet to receive any request from Pakistan.

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Indian Express Swiss graft case returns to haunt Zardari - 10 hrs ago
New York Times Uncertainty Continues Around Pakistan Corruption Case - 11 hrs ago
Times Online 'Reopen $60m corruption case against Zardari' - 11 hrs ago
Reuters via Yahoo! Zardari back in spotlight in Pakistan graft cases - 19 hrs ago
France24 PAKISTAN: Swiss prosecutor refuses to reopen corruption case against Zardari - 22 hrs ago

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