Pakistan court drops Zardari's graft cases

A Pakistani anti-corruption court on Wednesday officially terminated five cases against the husband of assassinated opposition leader Benazir Bhutto and released his frozen assets, his lawyer said.

Pakistan court drops Zardari's graft cases
The ruling follows a government amnesty granted to Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari in October, which dropped cases against the pair stemming from her two terms as prime minister and paved the way for her return from exile.

Zardari, 51, took over as head of Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party after she was slain at a political rally in December. The party emerged as the largest single grouping after elections in February.

"Allah has differentiated truth from lies and justice has been done," Zardari's lawyer, Farooq Naik, told reporters outside the court in Rawalpindi, a garrison city near Islamabad.

The court had "terminated" five cases against Zardari and unfrozen his assets, Naik said. Two more cases were pending but would be thrown out at the next hearing, he said.

Zardari spent eight years in prison on various corruption charges dating from Bhutto's spells as premier from 1988-1990 and 1993-1996. He was released on bail in late 2004.

Bhutto fled Pakistan in 1999 for self-imposed exile in London and Dubai because of the corruption cases but always insisted that they were politically motivated.

She returned home in October after President Pervez Musharraf agreed on the amnesty deal in what was seen as a prelude to a likely power-sharing deal between the two.

The PPP is now set to form a coalition government with former premier Nawaz Sharif -- the man ousted by Musharraf in 1999 -- after they both trounced the president's allies in the parliamentary elections.

Agencies

Last Mod: 05 Mart 2008, 13:17
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