Pakistan’s SC convicts PM Gilani guilty in a contempt of Court case , But spared him from Jail.
JNN 26 April 2012 Islamabad : Pakistani Prime Minster Yousuf Raza Gilani has been convicted of contempt of court for refusing to reopen old corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari. The Supreme Court found the prime minister guilty, but sentenced him to confinement for just a few minutes – “until the rising of the court”.
After a three-month trial, the country’s Supreme Court on Thursday found the premier guilty for failing to follow its order to write to the authorities in Switzerland and ask them to reopen graft cases against Zardari, AFP reported.
Gilani denies that he was in contempt for failing to reopen the cases due to the fact that Zardari, who also rejects the corruption charges, enjoys immunity as the country’s president.
The Supreme Court, however, spared Gilani a prison term in a case that has sparked political tensions in the country.
His lawyer says the premier would appeal the verdict, which means a further delay for any action that could see Gilani lose his job.
The three-month trial ended on Tuesday when defence and prosecution counsels concluded their arguments.
The Pakistani prime minister arrived at the court in the capital, Islamabad, along with members of his cabinet earlier in the day.
The embattled premier left the court while smiling and waving to his supporters.
There were immediate opposition calls for Mr Gilani to step down.
“The court verdict is based on truth and reality. The prime minister himself invited this situation,” opposition leader Nawaz Sharif told Geo TV.
Mr Gilani, who was making his third appearance before the court this year, had previously said he would have to step down if he was found guilty.
The BBC’s M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad says there is still a chance that Mr Gilani could be automatically disqualified from holding public office – it depends under what part of the constitution he has been convicted.
Our correspondent says the court has issued no such order and not initiated proceedings to that effect, so Mr Gilani is free to remain in his post for now.
A detailed judgement from the court is still awaited.
The government alleges that the judges are attempting to bring down the president and the prime minster.