Ed. note. This conviction was set aside by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on April 7, 2001, due to the trial judge indulging in improper communication with officials in the government of Mr. Nawaz Sharif. A new trial was ordered.

Judgement of the Ehtesab Bench of the Lahore High Court in the references against Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari

Short Order

April 15, 1999

"The Chief Ehtesab Commissioner has referred to this Court under section15(1) of the Ehtesab Act, 1997 the above Reference against Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, former PrimeMinister of Pakistan and presently a Member of the National Assembly and her husbandSenator Asif ali Zardari for trial under sections 3 & 4 of the Ehtesab Act, 1997. Aftersummoning the accused, we framed the following charges against them:


You as Prime Minister of Pakistan from 16.11.1993 to 5.11.1996 along withyour spouse Asif Ali Zardari in exercise of your official functions and by abuse of your positionas a holder of public office as defined in sub-para (ii) of Section 2 of the Act, with the abetment,assistance and aid of other co-accused dishonestly and through corrupt and illegal means orderedthe grant of pre-shipment inspection contract dated 29.9.1994 to M/s Societe GeneraleDe Surveillance S.A.(SGS) in consideration of illegal gratification, pecuniary advantages,commission and kick- backs, earlier agreed upon which were paid by SGS and obtained and receivedin Bank accounts of off-shore companies operated by Jens Schlegelmilch namely Bomer FinanceInc., Mariston Securities Inc. and Nassam Overseas Inc. of which you and your spouse andothers are beneficiaries.

Your above acts constitute the offence of corruption and corrupt practicesunder section 3(1)(a), 3(1)(d) and 4(2) of the Act which is triable by this Court, we hereby direct that you be tried on the said charges."


"You are a holder of public office as defined in sub-para (ii) of section2 of the Act along with your spouse Ms Benazir Bhutto in exercise of your official functions andby abuse of your position as a holder of public office, with the abetment assistance and aid of othersdishonestly and through corrupt and illegal means secured the award of pre-shipment inspectioncontract dated 29.9.1994 for M/s Societe Generals De Surveillance S. A. (SGS) in consideration ofillegal gratification, pecuniary advantages, commission and kick-backs, earlier agreed upon whichwere paid by SGS and were obtained and received in bank accounts of off-shore companiesoperated by Jens Schlegelmilch namely Bomer Finance Inc., Mariston Securities Inc. and NassanOverseas Inc. of which you and your spouse and others are beneficiaries.

Your above acts constitute the offence of corruption and corrupt practicesunder section 3(1) (a), 3(1)(d) and 4(2) of the Act which is triable by us. We hereby direct thatyou be tried on the said charge.

2. In order to prove its case, the prosecution examined 16 witnesses andalso produced 385 documents which were duly exhibited. In defence the only witness examinedby Mr Asif Ali Zardari was Mr Nawaz Hussain, Superintendent Landhi Jail, Karachi as DW.1.We have heard the learned counsel for the parties at great length. For detailed reasonsto be recorded later, we have reached the following conclusion:-

i) That the evidence comprising of Pakistani documents, documents sentalong with letter of rogatory, as also documents sent by the Swiss Judge, Daniel Devaud, dulystamped and signed by him, are admissible in evidence being certified copies of public documentsand have been duly proved;

ii) That the pre-shipment inspection contract in question was awarded toM/s SGS by the former Prime Minister, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto alone and so-called presentationof the Committee set up by her was merely an eyewash at the behest of and in abetment with MrAsif Ali Zardari;

iii) That the contract was awarded for the reason that M/s SGS had, on11.3.1994, promised to pay 6% (six per cent) of the fee received by it to Bomer Finance Inc. throughMr Jense Schlegelmilch as commission. Bomer Finance was a Company wholly and beneficiallyowned by Mr Asif Ali Zardari.

iv) That the payment of kickbacks was made in the account of Bomer FinanceInc. which it was maintaining with Union Bank of Switzerland, Geneva, which bear accountNo. 552343.

In addition to Mr Asif Ali Zardari, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto had also accessto this account and she had paid UK pound 92,000 out of the aforesaid account as price payablein respect of the necklace purchased by her for UK pound 1,17,000.

v) That this court had validly appointed Mr Moazzam Hayat, Registrar ofthis court as a Commission in order to compare the certified copies produced in evidenceby the prosecution with the documents in the original record, collected by Judge Daniel Devaudand also to verify the authentication of certified copies;

vi) That the award of contract resulted in payment of US dollar 137.492million by the government to M/s SGS which has further claimed US $13 million. Out of the above,commission amounting to US $4.3 million was paid by SGS to Mr Asif Ali Zardari of which MohtarmaBenazir Bhutto was also beneficiary.

vii) That the trial of the respondents is not hit by Article 12 of theConstitution which has no applicability to the facts of the case.

3. It follows from the above that the prosecution has proved its case againstMohtarma Benazir Bhutto and Senator Asif Ali Zardari beyond any reasonable shadow of doubt.They are, therefore, guilty of having committed corruption and corrupt practices within themeaning of section 3(1)(a), Section 3(1)(d) and section 4(2) of the Ehtesab Act. 1997.

Accordingly, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and Senator Asif ali Zardari are convictedand sentenced to undergo 5 years imprisonment each and to pay a fine of US $8.6 millionor equivalent amount in the Pakistani currency. They are further disqualified under section 9 ofthe Ehtesab Act, 1997 from holding any public office. Their property shall also be confiscated".

Source: Dawn (The Internet Edition - http://dawn.com), April 16, 1999