Corruption cases cannot be re-opened against Zardari : Swiss Prosecutor General

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Islamabad, Apr.1 (ANI): Rejecting reports that Pakistan's National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has asked the Swiss government to reopen corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari, Swiss Prosecutor General has said that the money laundering cases against Zardari could not be reopened as he enjoys immunity under country's Constitution.

"Zardari cannot be prosecuted in Switzerland because Pakistan's constitution grants him immunity as a head of state," said Daniel Zappelli, who had decided to close the case in Switzerland against Zardari and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, in August 2008.

Zappeli made it clear that Geneva cannot reopen cases against Zardari until Pakistani authorities remove the amnesty granted to the President.

"We could go further only if the competent authorities in Pakistan decide to lift the immunity of the head of state, which I do not know whether it is possible according to their constitution. If not, we can't. Absolutely not," The News quoted Zappeli, as saying.

Zardari and Benazir , were convicted by a Geneva court in 2003 of laundering 13 million dollars linked to kickbacks, but that verdict was overturned on appeal. In 2008, Swiss judicial authorities said they had closed the file related to the case.

Zappelli said that Pakistan's embassy in Switzerland had officially notified him in June 2008 of a decision by Pakistan's prosecutor-general in April to withdraw proceedings against Zardari.

A trial for money laundering in Switzerland would have to be based on the proceedings of the criminal activity, but that would require proof that a crime had been committed, he said.

"Immunity is the key question. We can't prosecute Zardari while he has immunity unless Pakistan lifts that immunity. And if he doesn't have immunity, why don't they try him in Pakistan," Zappelli questioned. (ANI)

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