Lack of evidence: Zardari acquitted in 19-year-old graft cases

An accountability court in Rawalpindi on Saturday acquitted PPP Co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari in several references involving alleged possession of assets beyond his known sources of income.

Accountability Court Judge Khalid Mehmood Ranjha absolved the former president after the prosecution failed to establish charges levelled against him 19 years ago during the PML-N’s second term.

In the references, Zardari and his slain wife, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, were accused of acquiring assets through illegal means and beyond their known sources of incomes.

The counsel for Zardari, Farooq H Naek, said the references had been filed in 1998 and adjudicated in little less than two decades. “Since 1998, four supplementary references were filed and cases were heard in Lahore, Attock and Rawalpindi,” Naek told News Tim Pakistan.

He said six chairmen of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) retired, six prosecutors-general were replaced and several special prosecutors were appointed during the proceedings of the references.

“A total of 40 witnesses were examined but no one made any direct allegations against Zardari or assigned him a direct role in alleged graft. The witnesses and evidences were shattered during cross-examination before the court,” he added.

Naek contended that the witnesses produced were irrelevant and the evidence produced before the court did not meet the standard envisaged in the Qanoon-e-Shahadat.

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