By Salahuddin Haider, Special to Arab News
Publication Date: 
Mon, 2001-05-14 04:53

ISLAMABAD, 14 May — An accountability court will try Benazir Bhutto and Asif Zardari on charges they received commission for awarding pre-shipment inspection contract to a Swiss company.

The case was sent to the accountability court in Rawalpindi for retrial by a Supreme Court bench on April 6, after the apex court ruled that Judge Malik Qayyum, who had handed down the sentence to the former ruling couple, was biased.

According to experts, the prosecution may be allowed to place additional records in the case as the Supreme Court had not made any ruling barring the prosecution to provide extra evidence in support of its case.

They said the prosecution could strengthen its case by placing additional evidence in the court. But it would be for the court to decide whether to allow or deny the placement of additional evidence. Under the NAB law, evidence can be recorded in the absence of the accused, but they could not be convicted. If the case proceeds in absentia, after the examination of the witnesses, the court would wait for the accused to appear before it.

Meanwhile, Pakistan People’s Party Secretary-General Jahangir Badar has slammed the issuance of arrest warrants against Benazir Bhutto as an attempt to punish her for refusing to accept the military rule. The arrest warrants were issued by an accountability court which the party said is biased. “Ever since Benazir announced her decision to return home, the regime has stepped up political pressure to remove her from politics” Badar said in a statement yesterday.

He said the entire Bhutto family was made a target by the government. “First her mother Nusrat Bhutto was sentenced, then Hakim Ali Zardari, her father-in-law, was indicted, her husband Asif Zardari was kept in solitary confinement and Benazir, herself, was framed.”

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