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ISLAMABAD, Feb 4: The Islamabad High Court cast aside on Wednesday the conviction of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in two corruption references filed by the National Accountability Bureau and released the surety bonds submitted against bails granted to him.

A division bench of the IHC, comprising Chief Justice Sardar Mohammad Aslam and Justice Raja Saeed Akram Khan, accepted appeals of Mr Gilani and set aside his conviction by an accountability court in Rawalpindi in 2004.

In the first corruption reference, Mr Gilani was accused of misusing his authority as speaker of the National Assembly by recruiting a number of people, including friends and relatives, in the National Assembly Secretariat without following the procedure and not advertising the posts in newspapers.

In the second reference, he was accused of violating rules in the purchase of a fleet of luxury vehicles for the National Assembly Secretariat. The deal cost the national exchequer Rs10 million.

It was also alleged in the reference that these vehicles were used by Mr Gilani’s relatives, friends and associates illegally.

He was also accused of misusing public telephones which cost the exchequer Rs3.6 million.

According to the prosecution, Mr Gilani maintained a speaker’s office in Islamabad and a camp office in Multan unlawfully.

In the recruitment case, Mr Gilani was awarded 10 years rigorous imprisonment, a fine of Rs100 million and in case of default he had to suffer further rigorous imprisonment for five years. The sentence was awarded by the Accountability Court-I on Sept 18, 2004.

NAB officials had earlier said the prime minister could get relief under the NRO, but Mr Gilani’s lawyer rejected it, seeking a decision on merit.