Islamabad: An anti-corruption court in Pakistan on Monday indicted former president Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur in a money laundering case, a move described by his party as "victimization" of opposition leaders. The development comes just ahead of the planned protests next month by Opposition parties to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The case is about the alleged use of fake accounts by the former president and other accused to park and launder the allegedly ill-gotten wealth. The 63-year-old husband of the country's first woman prime minister Benazir Bhutto and his 62-year-old sister Talpur were present in the court.
Judge Muhammad Azam Khan of the accountability court in Islamabad indicted them. The court also indicted Omni Group Chairman Anwar Majeed and his son, Abdul Ghani Majeed.
All the accused pleaded not guilty to the charges against them. Reacting to the development, Pakistan People's Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said "political victimisation of the opposition continues during a global pandemic".
He said Zardari and Talpur have been appearing in court for the past two years. "Runaway dictator traitor, three special assistants, ministers and the premier's sister won't be summoned because we have two laws in Pakistan," he said in a tweet.
The court, however, postponed Zardari's indictment in the Park Lane reference until October 5. The court also adjourned the hearing of the mega money laundering case until October 13 and directed three witnesses to appear before it at the next hearing.
Separately, the former president challenged the money laundering and the Park Lane cases in the Islamabad High Court. He argued in the appeal that the cases may be quashed as he was innocent. The appeal was filed against the accountability court judgment of last week in which it rejected Zardari's plea to quash three cases linked with the fake bank accounts case.
The mega money laundering scandal surfaced in 2018 and multiple probes linked with the case were launched. Zardari and Talpur were arrested last year and kept in custody for months before being released on bail in December.
He maintains that the allegation was part of a vilification campaign by Imran Khan-led ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf: party to malign the Opposition leaders.