ISLAMABAD - In the light of Supreme Court judgement regarding National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), an accountability court has reopened six references against former President Asif Ali Zardari, who does not enjoy legal immunity anymore.
Taking a suo motu notice, Islamabad Accountability Court (AC)-1 judge Bashir Ahmed ordered reopening of six pending National Accountability Bureau (NAB) references against the former president and directed Prosecutor General Accountability (PGA) KK Agha and Zardari to respond within two weeks.
These references had been deferred and put on hold on 28 January 2010 as Zardari upon his being elected head of the state enjoyed constitutional immunity under Article 248 of the constitution. The references against the former president include those regarding SGS, Cotechna, ARY, polo ground and Ursus tractors.
One case is regarding grant of licences to M/S ARY Traders for import of gold and silver that allegedly caused over Rs1.822 billion loss to public exchequer. In this case, the court has already acquitted Brig (r) Aslam Hayat Qureshi, Salman Farooqui, Abdul Rauf, Jan Muhammad and Abdul Razzaq Yaqoob. The proceedings against late PM Benazir Bhutto have already been abated due to her death while the court had declared Javed Talat and Jens Schlegelimilch as proclaimed offenders and issued their non-bailable arrest warrants.
The second case was about receiving of kickbacks and commissions from SGS and PSI companies. In this case the court had acquitted AR Siddiqui while Jens Schlegelimilch, Hans Fischer, Colin Robey, Olivier De Brreakeller, Michel Lysewyes, Michael Warrow, David Murray, William Boyd, R Rijken and Andrea Ralph were declared proclaimed offenders.
The third case was regarding kickbacks in pre-shipment (Cotechna Case). In this case AR Siddiqui was acquitted by the court. The case against Benazir and Nusrat Bhutto was abated due to their deaths and six foreigners namely Chris Clarck, William J Poppleton, John A Broadhurst, Ian Durham, Bently, NJH Moffet and Jen Schlegelimilch were declared proclaimed offenders.
The fourth case is about Green Tractor Scheme wherein the court had acquitted Muhammad Yousaf Talpur and AMH Kangu. The case against Benazir and Badurudin Zaidi was abated due to their deaths.
The fifth case, of assets beyond known source of income, was withdrawn and terminated by operation of law. The sixth pending case is about illegal construction of Polo Ground and other ancillary work at PM House in violation of the rules and procedure and misuse of office by the accused. In this case the court has acquitted Saeed Mehdi while the case against Shafi Sehwani was abated due to his death.
The apex court had taken up the matter of NRO when the PPP was in power. But Zardari efficiently crushed the country’s accountability process by claiming constitutional immunity. When the Supreme Court declared the NRO null and void, all cases withdrawn under it stood revived, though not practically because the PPP government kept defying court orders, as it did in Swiss money laundering case against Zardari.