Pakistan court acquits Asif Ali Zardari in corruption case

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan (AFP) - A Pakistani court on Saturday (Aug 26) acquitted former president Asif Ali Zardari in a major corruption case that dogged him for almost two decades, his lawyer said.

Zardari, who left office in 2013, faced corruption allegations involving Swiss banks dating back to the 1990s.

He was accused along with his late wife, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, of laundering US$12 million of illegal kickbacks.

"An accountability court today acquitted Asif Zardari in a case filed against him in 1998 accusing him of making and maintaining assets beyond his known sources of income," lawyer Farooq H. Naik told AFP.

He said the court, which has held hearings in Lahore and Rawalpindi since 1998, recorded statements from more than 40 witnesses.

"It has now become abundantly clear that the allegations against my client were fake and there were no solid grouds for filing a baseless case against him 19 years ago," Naik said.

Zardari has spent time behind bars on charges ranging from corruption to murder.

Little-known at the time of his arranged marriage into the Bhutto dynasty in 1987, he carved out a powerful position for himself, serving as a government minister in his wife's two administrations.