Supreme Court grants Bhutto chance to defend self.
ISLAMABAD, March 18 Kyodo Pakistan's Supreme Court on
Thursday directed the Lahore High Court to give an opportunity to former
Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto to defend herself in a corruption case
against her and her husband Senator Asif Zardari. A three-member bench
of the Supreme Court issued the directive on an appeal by Bhutto in
which she accused Justice Malik Qayyum, the judge of a two-member
accountability bench of the Lahore High Court hearing the case against
her of being biased and under government influence. Bhutto is being
prosecuted on charges of receiving commission in a contract awarded to
two Swiss firms and Wednesday had moved an application that her case be
shifted to a new bench since she had lost confidence in the judge.
Bhutto said she does not expect justice from the bench, claiming Qayyum
is biased against her and noting he is the son of the judge who gave
the death penalty to her father, former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali
Bhutto, in a political murder case 20 years ago. Rejecting a list of
witnesses submitted by Bhutto, Qayyum had told her Wednesday that he
would announce the judgment on Monday. The Supreme Court directed the
Lahore High Court to give full opportunity to Bhutto to defend herself
and to hear the defense witnesses before concluding the case.