Pakistan court grants bails to supermodel held for smuggling cash

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 14, 2015 7:53 AM

By Mubasher Bukhari

LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) - A Pakistani court granted bail on Tuesday to a supermodel jailed for four months on charges of attempting to smuggle out of the country more than half a million dollars in cash, her lawyer said.

Ayyan Ali's famous grey eyes have fronted campaigns for designer clothes, ice-cream and mobile phones. But her career crashed down after the 21-year-old singer of "Making Dollars" was detained at Islamabad airport on March 14 with a case stuffed with hundred-dollar bills.

By law, no more than $10,000 in cash may be taken out of Pakistan. Ali says she was waiting to give the funds from a property sale to her brother, who was arriving on a flight.

"She will be out of jail, probably by tomorrow evening," said her lawyer Khurram Latif Khosa, after the Lahore High Court granted bail.

The case shone a spotlight on the lax enforcement of laws against money laundering and smuggling in the nuclear-armed nation of 180 million people that is plagued by drug trafficking, militancy, corruption and crime.

Politicians frequently accuse each other of smuggling large sums of ill-gotten cash abroad, but the crumbling justice system is rarely able to investigate or prove such claims in court.

Ali's case has riveted Pakistanis, many of whom feel she was unfairly singled out. A Facebook page demanding her freedom has attracted more than 87,000 fans.

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Commentators have speculated on Ali's ties to the powerful after several politicians and one of Pakistan's most famous tycoons publicly denied any connection with her.

Ali made her first court appearance in an all-concealing traditional burqa, but later wore large sunglasses, jeans and hooded sweatshirts.

"She was a bit disturbed behind bars, but she never showed that she was getting demoralized," Khosa said. "She always attended the court's proceedings with a fresh look."

(Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)