Monday, February 13, 2012

Contempt of Court: PM Gilani Charged, Could Face Jail Term and Removal

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (Feb.13) – A seven-member bench of Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan, headed by Justice Nasir ul Mulk, has accused country’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani for contempt of court today (Monday, Feb. 13).

PM Gilani Charged with Conpempt, Could Face Jail Term and Removal

According to further details; the two-paged charge sheet against PM Gilani, duly signed by all seven judges of the bench, was read out in court. Mr Gilani reportedly said he had read and understood the accusation order.

PM Gilani has also expressed his point of view in court and pleaded not guilty of contempt. Mr Gilani has been involved by Pakistan's apex court for refusing to obey its orders to reopen cases against the Asif Ali Zardari, President of Pakistan.

State media and private news channels are reporting that if found guilty PM Gilani could be sentenced a 6-month jail term and face likely removal from office after being disqualified from holding public office for 5 years.

Some legal experts are of the view that the President has the power to pardon Mr. Gilani if he is convicted, while the Prime Minister, talking to Al Jazeera TV on Saturday, had shown his intentions to resign, in case he is convicted.

A noted lawyer and parliamentarian, S. M. Zafar, said that if Mr Gilani is convicted and if he is granted a presidential pardon, it would apply only to the punishment handed down by the court while the conviction would remain on record. Therefore, the premier could be disqualified despite the pardon, he observed.

On Friday (Feb. 10), Pakistan's top court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, dealt a major blow to Mr Gilani by turning down his appeal against framing of contempt charges over his failure to act on its repeated orders to revive cases of alleged money laundering against Asif Ali Zardari in Switzerland. Mr Gilani personally appeared in the court when it took up the contempt case on January 19 and said the government could not reopen the cases against the President because he enjoys complete immunity in Pakistan and abroad.

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