An accountability court on Friday acquitted former President Asif Ali Zardari in two more corruption references – Ursus tractors and ARY Gold – filed against him by National Accountability Bureau (NAB). An Accountability Court Judge, Muhammad Bashir, while hearing the corruption cases filed by NAB, against Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari, announced his judgement in both the references, declaring the accused innocent due to a lack of concrete evidence against him.
Farooq H Naek, Zardari’s counsel, said that the prime accused in the Ursus tractor and the ARY gold corruption cases has been acquitted while proceedings against his client are still going on. It is against the law in any case, that the main accused are acquitted by the court while proceedings against the co-accused of the case continue, he said.
Naek said the cases against his client have been filed on political grounds and there is no solid evidence against his client adding that being the president Zardari enjoyed immunity and he did not face any trial during the previous government. Naek requested the court to acquit him from both the cases. The judge said that when the main accused of a case are acquitted then proceedings against the co-accused could not be carried on. He approved the acquittal plea of Zardari in the Ursus tractors and the ARY Gold corruption references and proceedings in relation to an acquittal plea in the Societe Generale de Surveillance (SGS) SGS and Cotecna reference have been adjourned till December 17.
The NAB prosecutor, Chaudhry Riaz, argued that NAB has presented concrete evidence before the court. He also submitted a rejoinder in the court. It is pertinent to mention here that the accountability court on May 28 had acquitted Asif Ali Zardari in the Polo Ground reference which was related to illegal construction of a polo ground at Prime Minister’s House. The accountability court reopened NAB references against former President Asif Ali Zardari on October 11,2013 and issued a notice to him to appear before the court.
The five references filed by NAB against the former president include the alleged kickbacks from SGS PSI Company, grant of license to ARY Gold causing a huge loss to the national exchequer, illegal gratification and undue pecuniary advantage in the form of commission in purchase of URSUS tractors under the Awami Tractor Scheme, an illegal award of contract to Cotecna for pre-shipment, assets beyond means and illegal construction of a polo ground at the Prime Minister’s House.
The references against former President Zardari were adjourned when he was elected as President of Pakistan due to constitution immunity. All prime accused in the reference, except Zardari, have already been acquitted, sources said. Former president Pervez Musharraf had withdrawn all cases against Zardari under National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) in 2007. The Supreme Court had later annulled the NRO and reopened all corruption cases against Zardari.
SOURCE: RECORDER REPORT