NO Immunity for Zardari

By A Khokar   20 January 2012
In April 1999, Swiss courts caught three criminals; Asif Ali Zardari, Miss Benazir Bhutto and their partner Dr. J. Schlegelmilch, a Swiss lawyer, on laundering some 60 million of stolen and kick back money stashed in Swiss banks accounts. This alerted the Pakistani government and Pakistan put up a claim in the Swiss courts that this stolen money belongs to Pakistani peoples. The case study says that: (excerpt) ‘The Government of Pakistan claims a declaration that it is beneficially entitled to the relevant payments received into the Zardari Swiss bank accounts”, to the background to the purchase of the Rockwood Estate, and to such other assets of the Companies as are found to have derived directly or indirectly from the alleged secret commissions and/ or bribes.’[1]

For their proven crimes Zardari, Miss Bhutto and their partner were convicted for laundering the stolen money in 2003 and sentenced. Later this conviction had gone for their case appeal for reinvestigation of their cases that mean while General Pervez Musharraf granted a general amnesty by issuing a National Reconciliation order-NRO and cases against many culprits were withdrawn. Likewise, the claim of Pakistan in the Swiss court to retrieve the stolen money from Zardari, Miss Benazir Bhutto was also withdrawn. Basing on the grant of NRO; reportedly; Swiss courts also set aside the money laundering case and frozen banks accounts were released back to the Zardari and his associates.

Off late in 2009, this infamous NRO was contested in the courts and same was placed as defunct and any such amnesty or the benefits coined by its beneficiaries were ab initio withdrawn and NRO cancelled. All the cases in the courts were ordered to be re-opened. Government of Pakistan was also asked to reopen the case of its claim in Swiss court.

Ironically; the culprit of pilferage and laundering millions of dollars abroad; MR Asif Ali Zardari by now had become the president of Pakistan and the entire official machinery was made in place that Swiss courts may not be contacted to re-open the subject claim case.

Being a President; Asif Ali Zardari is adamant not to write to the Swiss courts that he enjoys an immunity of any criminal trial in the court under the constitutional privilege entrusted to the President; not withstanding that Zardari being a president may be entitled to an immunity in Criminal cases vide article 248 of Constitution but Pakistan is mere a claimant of recovery of its money in his theft which is a Civil case and sadly; President does not enjoy any immunity in Civil cases.

One wonders how the most renowned lawyer Mr. Ehtazaz Ahsan in Apex Courts is also seen insisting on Immunity of President Zardari in reopening the Swiss bank case for which the beleaguered Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani is made a scapegoat. He is held accountable on contempt of court order for not writing to Swiss Court to re-open the case when subject case is not a criminal but mere a Civil case for retrieving of money which belongs to peoples of Pakistan.
Although there is hardly any chance that some money is lying in the Swiss banks to retrieve it back but one may trace it out since converted into 100 Billions accumulated assets of Asif ali Zardari in the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, the United States of America and the British Virgin Islands (BVI) as stated in ‘The International Centre for Recovery Report’ of ‘Assets knowledge Recovery Centre’ which says:

Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari

”A consummate politician, Benazir Bhutto was twice appointed Prime Minister of Pakistan (1988-1990 and 1993-1996). On both occasions she was dismissed from office for alleged corruption and misrule or bad governance. 1 Between 1998 and 2007 Bhutto lived in exile from Pakistan in Dubai and London. She returned to Pakistan in October 2007 after reaching an understanding with President Pervez Musharraf by which she was granted amnesty and all corruption charges were withdrawn. However, Benazir Bhutto political life was ended with her assassinated on December 27, 2007.

Her husband Asif Ali Zardari (now the current President of Pakistan) also played a prominent role in both administrations. He served as Minister of Investment from 1993 to 1996. During Bhutto’s terms as prime minister, Zardari is alleged to have masterminded various corruption related activities involving millions of dollars with Bhutto’s knowledge. Zardari gained the reputation of demanding a certain percent of government contracts issued to business people, thereby earning a succession of nicknames: Mr 5 Percent, Mr 10 Percent, Mr. 20 Percent, Mr 30 Percent, and Mr 100 Percent.

In total, Bhutto-Zardari accumulated assets worth over $100 million in the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, the United States of America and the British Virgin Islands (BVI). 2 Some estimates place Bhutto-Zardari loot at more than $ 1.5 billion. This sum allegedly came from illicit profits through kickbacks in every sphere of government activity, including: rice export deals, the sell-off of state land, purchase of planes for Pakistan International Airlines, sugar mills, oil and gas permits, awarding of broadcast licenses, privatization of state-owned industries and rake-offs from state welfare schemes.””

Source: http://www.assetrecovery.org/

[1] Extract from Pakistan government claim filed in Swiss courts

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