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Pakistan officials urge Switzerland to reopen Zardari corruption investigation

[JURIST] Pakistan's National Accountability Bureau (NAB) [official website] on Wednesday asked Swiss officials to reopen a corruption investigation against Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari [official website]. The request [DAWN report] was made in a letter from the NAB, the country's chief anti-corruption body, to Swiss officials, but the Swiss Federal Department of Justice [official website] has not confirmed receipt of the request. Zardari was previously convicted of money laundering in Switzerland in 2003, but that conviction was later overturned [Al Jazeera report], and subsequent attempts by the Swiss to convict him were unsuccessful [JURIST report]. Aides to Zardari believe that presidential immunity protects him from prosecution, even after Pakistan's Supreme Court [official website] overturned an amnesty law [JURIST report] implemented by former president Pervez Musharaff. However, Zardari may face attacks on his eligibility to have been elected president in 2008, since prior allegations of corruption may have rendered him ineligible for office.

The request by the NAB comes one day after the Supreme Court ordered the bureau to reopen all corruption investigations [JURIST report] within 24 hours. That order was accompanied by a contempt of court notice for the bureau's chairman, Naveed Ahsan. The Supreme Court's order is likely to increase tensions between the president and the judiciary, which have recently clashed over court appointments [JURIST report]. The same day as the Supreme Court's order to the NAB, Pakistani police detained Ahmed Riaz Sheikh, Director General of the Federal Investigation Agency, in the first arrest of a government official since amnesty was rescinded. In December, a Pakistani court issued an arrest warrant [JURIST report] for Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who is accused of corruption.

11:00 AM ET - Swiss authorities have refused to reopen the corruption investigation [AP report], claiming Zardari still has legal immunity.

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