Pak PM Gilani faces indictment for contempt

Islamabad: Beleaguered Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani will appear before Supreme Court today to face contempt charges that could cost him his job and plunge Pakistan into a fresh political turmoil over his refusal to reopen graft cases against the President.

If convicted, Gilani, 59, could be imprisoned for six months and face possible removal from office after being disqualified from holding public office for five years.

Dealing a major blow to Gilani, Pakistan`s apex court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry on Friday had rejected his appeal against framing of contempt charges over his failure to act on its repeated orders to revive cases of alleged money laundering against President Asif Ali Zardari Switzerland.

Gilani personally appeared in the court when it took up the contempt case on January 19 and said the government could not reopen the cases against the President because he enjoys complete immunity in Pakistan and abroad.

Refusing to buy his arguments, the court told Gilani that he had no option but to write to Swiss authorities to revive graft cases against Zardari as no one was above the law.

The court had said that USD 60 million that were allegedly laundered will come back to Pakistan only if the letter is written to Swiss authorities.

Ahead of his court appearance, Gilani said that he would resign if the apex court convicts him in the case over his refusal to reopen graft cases against Zardari in Switzerland.

Gilani said his conviction by the apex court would automatically result in his disqualification as a member of parliament. "Certainly, then there is no need to step down. If I am convicted, then I`m not even supposed to be a member of parliament," Gilani told Al-Jazeera channel in an interview.

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