An anti-corruption court in Pakistan on Monday indicted former President Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur in a money laundering case that his party described as “victimization” of opposition leaders.
The development comes just before the planned protests by the opposition parties next month 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 defendants to park and launder the allegedly ill-gotten wealth.
The 63-year-old husband of the country’s first female prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, and his 62-year-old sister Talpur were present in court.
Judge Muhammad Azam Khan of the Accountability Court in Islamabad has charged them.
The court also indicted the chairman of the Omni Group, Anwar Majeed, and his son, Abdul Ghani Majeed.
All of the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against them.
In response to the developments, the leader of the Pakistani People’s Party, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, said that “the political victimization of the opposition continues during a global pandemic”.
He said Zardari and Talpur had appeared in court for two years.
“The runaway dictator traitor, three special assistants, ministers and the prime minister’s sister are not being called because we have two laws in Pakistan,” he said in a tweet.
However, the court 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 ordered three witnesses to appear before him at the next hearing.
Separately, the former president has challenged the money laundering and Park Lane cases in the Islamabad High Court. He argued on appeal that the cases could be overturned as innocent.
The complaint was filed against last week’s ruling by the Court of Accounts rejecting Zardari’s motion to set aside three cases related to the case of fraudulent bank accounts.
The mega money laundering scandal surfaced in 2018 and several probes linked to the case were launched.
Zardari and Talpur were arrested last year and held for months before being released on bail in December.
He claims the allegation was part of a smear campaign by the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party led by Imran Khan to defame opposition leaders.