Pakistani prime minister faces Supreme Court contempt hearing | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 02.02.2012
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Pakistani prime minister faces Supreme Court contempt hearing

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has been summoned to appear before the Supreme Court on contempt of court charges. He faces six months in jail for failing to pursue a corruption case against the president.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani waves towards the media after arriving at the Supreme Court

Gilani last appeared before the court in January

Pakistan 's Supreme Court announced it will charge Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani with contempt of court for his failure to reopen an old corruption case against the country's president.

If convicted, Gilani could lose his office and serve up to six months in jail.

Gilani told the press on Thursday he will appear before the court on February 13, when he is scheduled to be charged.

This is the latest escalation in an ongoing case which was opened in 2009 when the Supreme Court ordered the government to write to Swiss authorities, requesting they reopen a graft case against President Zardari dating back to the late 90s. The government has refused to write the letter, arguing that Zardari enjoyed immunity as head of state and accused judges of plotting with the military to wage a witch-hunt against him.

Gilani was last summoned to appear in court on January 19.

Zardari and his late wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, had been found guilty of graft by a Swiss court in absentia in 2003. He appealed the case and it was shelved in 2008 when he took office as president.

Tariq Mahmood, a former Supreme Court judge told AFP there is a chance the court will drop the case if Gilani admits and apologizes when the charges are read out against him.

"The court does not unnecessarily punish people in contempt cases. It wants its dignity and decorum maintained. It all depends on how the judges proceed," Mahmood added.

sb/ccp (AP, AFP)