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Pakistan Supreme Court strikes down presidential amnesty order

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Pakistan [official website] on Wednesday struck down [order, PDF] the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) [text], which granted President Asif Ali Zardari [official website] and 8,000 other government officials immunity from corruption charges. A special 17-member panel of court ruled unanimously that the NRO is unconstitutional [Dawn report], paving the way for corruption charges to be brought against Zardari. Zardari is immune from prosecution while in office, but challenges to his eligibility [NYT report] as a presidential candidate are expected. Many other government officials, including the interior minister and the defense could face immediate prosecution.

The court began hearing [JURIST report] the legal challenge earlier this month. 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. The ordinance also applies to similar charges against politicians who were charged, but not convicted, of corruption between 1988 and 1999.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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