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Pakistan PM Gilani faces indictment for contempt

(iBBC News) Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Monday faces indictment for contempt in Supreme Court which may cost him his job for his refusal to re-open graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

The Supreme Court Friday threw out a last-ditch appeal from the embattled Prime Minister.

If convicted, Gilani faces six months in jail and disqualification from office in a case that has fanned political instability and may force elections within months in a country already troubled by Al-Qaeda and Taliban violence.

The Supreme Court has insisted that Gilani appears for the framing of contempt charges over the government's two-year refusal to ask Swiss authorities to re-open graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

Zardari and his late wife, prime minister Benazir Bhutto, were suspected of using Swiss bank accounts to launder about $12 million in alleged bribes paid by companies seeking customs inspection contracts in Pakistan in the 1990s.

The Supreme Court has said it will only drop the summons if Gilani obeys its order to write to the Swiss authorities, asking them to re-open the cases.

Gilani's lawyer, Aitzaz Ahsan has confirmed that the prime minister would now appear in court on Monday.

Gilani said that if convicted he would lose his seat in the parliament and would automatically be removed as prime minister.

"Certainly then there is no need to step down if I am convicted, I am not supposed to be even the member of the parliament," Gilani told Al Jazeera television in an interview on Saturday.

Interior minister Rehman Malik on Sunday reviewed the security arrangements in Islamabad's "Red Zone" where the Supreme Court, presidency and prime minister's office and residence are located, state media reported.

A statement issued by Supreme Court on Sunday said that journalists, lawyers and others would be allowed to witness proceedings only if issued with special passes.

The Swiss shelved the cases in 2008, when Zardari became head of state, and a prosecutor in Switzerland has said it will be impossible to re-open them as long as he remains head of state and is immune from prosecution.

Gilani insists that Zardari has full immunity.

Members of the government accuse judges of over-stepping their reach and of trying to bring down the prime minister and president, a year before the administration would become the first in Pakistan to complete an elected term.

The Pakistani court overturned in December 2009 a two-year political amnesty that had frozen the allegations against Zardari and other politicians.

Gilani himself appeared before the Supreme Court on January 19, citing Zardari's immunity as explanation for his refusal to obey the court's order.

Legal experts say that Gilani can only avoid being charged by lodging a successful appeal, apologising or promising to write to the Swiss.

The president, who is so tainted by corruption allegations that his nickname is "Mr 10 Percent", has already spent 11 years in jail on charges ranging from corruption to murder.

He was never convicted and his supporters say that the charges were politically motivated.

Pebble Beach frustration for title hungry Woods

(iBBC News) - Tiger Woods' long and winding journey back to the game's pinnacle suffered another setback on Sunday when he battled his way to a final round 75 at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Seeming well placed for a last-day after shooting a six-birdie 67 in the third round, the former world number one struggled on the greens as his playing partner Phil Mickelson beat him by 11 shots.

While fellow American Mickelson signed off with a flawless 64 to seal a two-shot victory, Woods totalled 31 putts to post his worst score of the week by seven strokes.

"What's frustrating is I had a chance (to win)," a subdued Woods told reporters after failing in his bid to end a PGA Tour victory drought of more than two years. "All I had to do was get off to a good solid start today and I didn't do that.

"I thought I could get it going in the middle part of the round but instead I went the other way."

World number 18 Woods, who has not won a full-field event since the 2009 Australian Masters, recorded three consecutive bogeys from the seventh and failed to gain any momentum after the turn.

"I didn't hit it as bad as the score indicated but I putted awful," the 14-times major champion said. "As good as I felt on the greens yesterday was as bad as I felt bad today.

"I just could not see my lines, I couldn't get comfortable and I couldn't get the blade to swing. Anything that I tried to do wasn't working.

"And consequently I made a ton of mistakes on the greens," added Woods, whose form over the past two years has been exacerbated a swing change, injury problems and the breakdown of his marriage.

MICKELSON FACTOR

Asked whether being paired with Mickelson in the penultimate group had been a factor in his last-day struggles, he replied: "Not at all. I still had to go out there and post my number."

Woods, four strokes off the lead overnight, made a slow start and failed to capitalise on a good birdie opportunity at the par-five second where he missed a five-footer.

Though he picked up his first shot of the day at the par-five sixth after reaching the green in two, he three-putted for bogey at the seventh and missed a five-foot par putt at the eighth.

Woods also bogeyed the ninth after finding a greenside bunker with his approach to reach the turn in two-over 38, five off the lead.

He finally produced a moment of magic when he holed out from a greenside bunker to birdie the 12th but followed up with bogeys at 14 and 15 to drop well out of contention.

His putter continued to betray him as he left an eight-foot birdie attempt short at the par-four 16th and then missed a three-footer for birdie at the par-five last.

Woods will hope his tie for 15th at Pebble Beach, where he won the 2000 U.S. Open by a record 15 shots, was a mere blip in his efforts to return to the winner's circle on a regular basis.

In his three previous stroke-play events, he finished third at the Australian Open in November, won the limited-field Chevron World Challenge which he hosts in December and tied for third at last month's Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.
 
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