Court acquits Zardari in SGS-Cotecna cases

Lawyer says records in both corruption references do not exist

Our Correspondent November 25, 2015
Zardari’s counsel says real record of both references not present anywhere. PHOTO: AFP


An accountability court has acquitted former president and PPP Co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari in the SGS and Cotecna corruption cases over lack of evidence.

Zardari had pleaded for acquittal in February, alleging the cases were politically motivated and there was no incriminating evidence against him. On Tuesday, Judge Muhammad Bashir exonerated him of the corruption charges.

The case of Societe Generale Surveillance (SGS) – a Geneva-based certification company – was in continuance of a corruption reference filed in 1997, accusing slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and her spouse of receiving kickbacks on a government contract.

The Cotecna case was based on the then PPP government’s award of a contract to a Swiss company allegedly after receiving 6% cut on revenue proceeds.

In his arguments, the former president’s attorney, Farooq H Naek, reiterated that the records in both references were not present and only photocopies were presented to the court. “In such a situation,” he said, “cases cannot be taken forward, and his client should be acquitted.”

On a previous hearing, the judge had observed that the case record consisted of attested copies, asking if the real documents could be obtained from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Naek had maintained that whoever certified the records should come before the court and testify, as NAB had said the records of the references were not available. “Even the investigation officer has not seen the records,” he had claimed.

Earlier, NAB ex-deputy chairman Hassan Waseem Afzal had recorded his statement, saying he personally went to Switzerland to bring back the original records of the SGS case and submitted it in the Lahore High Court.

Afzal maintained the original documents related to the agreements with the offshore companies and Swiss bank accounts were submitted to the court and should be with the court or NAB. The court had reserved its verdict on November 12 after both sides concluded their arguments. The court announced an accused cannot be punished without the availability of original documents.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 25th, 2015.


ishrat salim | 6 years ago | Reply If NAB does not provide evidence in original, do you think he can be prosecuted ? this is a muk mukao, because NAB Chairman selected by him & NS. This is Pakistan, anything & everything is possible with the rich & powerful.
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