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Pak: Lawyer files petition against Zardari verdict

December 20, 2009 15:31 IST

A lawyer filed a petition on Saturday in Pakistan's Supreme Court challenging any move to reopen graft cases in other countries against President Asif Ali Zardari on the ground that he enjoyed immunity under the constitution. In the petition filed with the Lahore registry of the apex court, lawyer Zafarullah Khan said the Supreme Court had no jurisdiction to order the reopening of cases against the President outside Pakistan as the constitution and international laws provide immunity to the head of state from being tried in courts.

The petition said the Supreme Court's decision to reopen foreign cases was unconstitutional and beyond its jurisdiction. Khan named the federal government, the law ministry and the registrar of the apex court as respondents in thecase. A bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry had on Wednesday struck down an amnesty on corruption cases that benefited over 8,000 people, including Zardari and several close aides. It also directed authorities to reopen all cases withdrawn under the amnesty inside and outside the country. The bench also directed the government to take immediate steps to reopen cases pending against Zardari and others in Swiss courts.

Khan also told reporters that Zardari was not holding the office of President at the time the cases were originally registered but he now enjoys immunity in his capacity as head of state. Any move to reopen the cases in Swiss court would mean
that "we are subjecting our President to the jurisdiction of foreign courts," he said.

Meanwhile, former Inter-Services Intelligence officer and rights campaigner Khalid Khwaja filed another petition in the apex court regarding the immunity from prosecution granted to the President.  Khwaja said in his petition that this immunity is in
contradiction with human rights and Islamic injunctions and should be quashed. The petition asked the apex court to declare the presidential immunity null and void.

Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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