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Pakistan high court initiates contempt proceedings against businessman

The Supreme Court of Pakistan [official website] on Wednesday initiated contempt of court proceedings against Malik Riaz Hussain. The court's action was a response [NYT report] to the accusation brought forth by Hussain who alleged a day earlier that the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry [JURIST news archive] and his family members have accepted $3.7 million in kickbacks and cash payments. Hussain also claimed that Chaudhry's son Arsalan Iftikhar received the payments in return for favorable treatment in court cases regarding his property holdings and began to blackmail him. Hussain presented evidence in the form of airline tickets and hotel bills amounting to USD $168,000 accrued in three trips by Iftikhar to prove his allegations. According to Hussain, Iftikhar also received four cash payment in the amount of $3.6 million. Despite the payments and trips paid by Hussain, his dispute before the court related to his property holding did not improve upon which he warned Chaudhry that his son was receiving payments from him. He pointed out that he is not the only one who was blackmailed by Chaudhry's son. The court ordered Hussain to appear before a three-judge panel on Thursday.

Pakistan has been called upon to improve its human rights standard and work to eliminate institutionalized discrimination and to prevent torture and corruption. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] urged [JURIST report] last week the country to keep working on improving the country's human rights standard. In May, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari [official website] signed [JURIST report] a bill authorizing the creation of an independent human rights commission in Pakistan. The bill was approved by the country's National Assembly [official website] on May 4. The Supreme Court of Pakistan had convicted [JURIST report] Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] of contempt of court for disobeying a court order to open corruption cases against President Zardari.

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