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Pak PM Convicted Of Contempt, No Jail Term

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was on Thursday convicted of contempt of court for disobeying a court order by not writing to the Swiss authorities seeking re-opening of a money laundering case against President Asif Ali Zardari.

A seven-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk, however, refrained from awarding him jail sentence, and instead ordered his detention in the court until the hearing adjourned, Pak media reported.

"For reasons to be recorded later, the Prime Minister is found guilty of contempt for willfully flouting the direction of the Supreme Court," said Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk.

The sentencing lasted only for 30 seconds. The Prime Minister remained standing for 30 seconds after the announcement of judgment. A visibly dejected Gilani, accompanied by his sons, after hearing the verdict shook hands with his team and members of the Federal Cabinet.

Gilani's contention was that he could not write to the Swiss authorities as the President and other top functionaries of the State enjoyed immunity from prosecution under the National Reconciliation Ordinance promulgated by former President Parvez Musharraf.

After leaving the apex court, Gilani briefly talking to media said the verdict was "inappropriate," but he was prepared for this conviction. He said appealing the conviction would be decided after consultations with his legal aides.

Gilani said even after the conviction he was still the Prime Minister and the course of democracy would not be sabotaged. He said he respected courts and whenever he was summoned by the court he appeared.

Meanwhile Federal Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan said a petition would be filed in the court for a review of the verdict. "The country cannot afford any adventurism. PPP (Pakistan People's Party) has always been victimized," she said.

Gilani appeared in person in the Supreme Court for the third time to hear the verdict in the case.

by RTT Staff Writer

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