An accountability court Islamabad judge Muhammad Bashir on Wednesday acquitted former president Asif Ali Zardari in the polo ground corruption reference regarding the construction of a polo ground at Prime Minister House. The court announced the verdict saying that the accused had not been proven guilty so far. The court rejected the petitions seeking acquittal in the SGS and Cotechna references.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had opened five corruption cases against the former president in compliance to the Supreme Court judgment passed in the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) case in December 2009.The verdict was given by Judge Bashir of Accountability Court No-1. The court further stated that evidence against the former president was not sufficient for further proceedings.
This reference builds upon the construction of a polo ground along with ancillary works at the Prime Minister House, which NAB says are illegal and in violation of the rights and privileges that were afforded to Asif Ali Zardari.
In February, the court had reserved its judgment on the application of the former president seeking acquittal in the corruption reference.
The reference filed in 2000 alleged that the polo ground at the Prime Minister House was constructed during the second tenure of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto on the verbal orders of her husband Asif Ali Zardari to CDA chairmen Saeed Mehdi and Shafi Sehwani at an estimated cost of Rs52.29 million.
The NAB in the reference nominated the two former CDA chairmen as the principal accused. It was alleged that both the former CDA chiefs got sheds constructed and carried out landscaping in a portion of the Prime Minister House and converted it into a polo ground.
The other cases pending against the former president Asif Ali Zardari included the allegation of receiving kickbacks from SGS PSI Company, grant of licence to ARY Gold causing huge loss to government, illegal gratification and undue pecuniary advantage in the form of commission in purchase of Ursus tractors under the Awami Tractor Scheme. In Switzerland a bank account in the name of an offshore company which was allegedly used to receive the kickbacks, this case is about the award of a contract to the Swiss company after allegedly receiving six per cent bribe on the revenue proceeds.
The court will decide the ARY Gold and Ursus tractor references on June 5 while Cotechna and SGS Swiss cases will be taken on June 9
Former law minister Farooq Naek is representing Zardari in the cases.