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Funds embezzlement Bail denied to NGO official

June 20, 2013

PESHAWAR, June 19: The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed the bail plea of the Small Scale Enterprise Promotion’s project director arrested by National Accountability Bureau for corruption.

Justice Nasirul Mulk and Justice Sarmad Jalal Usmani of the Supreme Court, Peshawar registry ruled that petitioner Fasihuz Zaman, of Swiss-funded nongovernmental organisation, was not entitled to the concession of bail.

They, however, directed NAB to conclude the trial in two months, observing that if that didn’t happen, the petitioner could again move the court for bail.

The petitioner is charged by NAB with embezzling around Rs27.56 million of the project.

NAB deputy prosecutor general Jamil Khan told the court that the trial of the petitioner was in progress.

He said NAB had been trying to locate some witnesses to record their evidence and conclude the trial.

Mr Jamil said NAB was not to blame for delayed trial as the petitioner’s lawyer had been busy in lengthy cross-examination of prosecution witnesses, including the investigation officer, and that had been causing the delay.

He said the petitioner was also not entitled to bail on merit as he had remained absconder for almost nine years. He feared that if the petitioner was granted bail, he would again go into hiding.

The petitioner’s lawyer said his client had been behind bars since Nov 23, 2011. He said the high court had twice given time to the accountability court for the conclusion of the trial but that could not be implemented.

The lawyer said the high court had ordered the completion of the trial within three months but when the order was not complied with, the court gave eight more days for the purpose.

Last month, the high court had dismissed bail plea of the petitioner.

In 2002, the accountability court had declared the accused a proclaimed offender after he had failed to turn up despite issuance of warrants for his arrest and several notices to him.

In the instant case, NAB had begun inquiry at the request of the Swiss government after the media reported the alleged corruption and sexual harassment in the NGO.

Project coordinator of NGO Abdul Manan was arrested on Nov 12, 2002 and after his application for plea bargain was accepted he was set free on payment of Rs600,000.

The said project was initiated within the framework of Agreement on Technical and Scientific Cooperation between the Swiss and Pakistani governments.

The development cooperation programme was formed initially for three years (1995-97). It was later extended twice to 2000 with an aim to improve technical skills of construction-related small-scale industries, silk weaving industry, cottage textile industry etc.