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Swiss drop money-laundering charges against Pakistan presidential candidate

[JURIST] Swiss Prosecutor General Daniel Zappelli announced on Monday that he will not pursue money-laundering charges against Pakistani presidential candidate Asif Ali Zardari [CV; BBC profile], who is the widower of the assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive]. Zappelli explained that Geneva was left with insufficient evidence to continue after authorities in Pakistan [JURIST news archive] dropped their own corruption and smuggling charges [JURIST report] against Zardari, who heads the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) [party website]. Zardari and Bhutto had been suspected of using Swiss bank accounts to launder $12 million paid by companies which contracted with the Pakistani government to perform customs inspections, but Pakistani authorities dismissed charges against Bhutto shortly after she was assassinated last year [JURIST reports]. Zappelli has unfrozen $60 million in seized assets [Reuters report] but Geneva's government will receive over $3 million. AP has more. PakTribune.com has local coverage.

If elected, Zardari would be the successor to Pervez Musharraf [JURIST news archive], who announced his resignation [JURIST report] earlier this month in order to avoid impeachment for his alleged abuses of authority, including the mass dismissal of judges [JURIST report] last year. On Monday, Pakistan's coalition government dissolved [JURIST report] after former prime minister Nawaz Sharif withdrew his Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) [official website] party over the failure to reach an agreement with the PPP to reinstate the ousted judges.

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