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Pakistan high court releases detailed judgment on presidential amnesty order

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Pakistan [official website] released its detailed judgment [judgment, PDF] regarding the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) [text] on Wednesday. The ordinance granted President Asif Ali Zardari [official website] and 8,000 other government officials immunity from charges including corruption, embezzlement, money laundering, murder, and terrorism between January 1986, and October 1999. A special 17-member panel of court unanimously ruled the NRO unconstitutional [JURIST report] in December, paving the way for corruption charges to be brought against Zardari. Zardari is immune from prosecution while in office, but challenges to his eligibility as a presidential candidate are expected. Many other government officials could face immediate prosecution.

Last month, a Pakistani court issued an arrest warrant [JURIST report] for Interior Minister Rehman Malik [official profile] on corruption charges. Malik is among 19 officials whose corruption cases the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) [official website] has petitioned to reopen [PTI report] in an anti-corruption court in Rawalpindi. The NAB has also petitioned a Lahore court to reopen the cases of 32 individuals, including that of Defense Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar [official profile]. The NRO was signed [JURIST report] by former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] in 2007 as part of a power-sharing accord allowing former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto [BBC profile] to return to the country despite corruption charges [JURIST report] she had faced.

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