ISLAMABAD: An official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who is facing charges of human smuggling, has applied for a plea bargain deal with the National Accountability Bureau.

The counsel for Shafqat Cheema, who was arrested on May 17, told an accountability court on Monday that the suspect had been under investigation for nine months, but he had not been asked for the plea bargain.

The lawyer informed the court that his client was ready for the plea bargain.

Under NAB laws, a plea bargain deal is made once the court started trying the case. In the deal, the suspect offers to pay a portion of the amount he is accused of having plundered and it means that he has confessed to committing the crime and is considered guilty.

The lawyer requested the court to form a medical board to assess the medical condition of the suspect because he is suffering from heart disease.

Meanwhile, NAB obtai­ned physical remand of the suspect for another 10 days when he was produced before the court.

NAB prosecutor Tahir Ayub informed the court that the remand was required to further interrogate the arrested official.

He said the investigators had already recovered ivory tusks of elephants and six plots, including five in Islamabad and one in Defence Housing Authority, Gujranwala, and other valuables in the name of the accused, but NAB wanted to unearth his Benami property.

The NAB has recovered Rs50 million from a bank account of the accused.

The NAB Rawalpindi had initiated an inquiry against the accused after receiving information that he had made frequent private tours to Europe and the US along with his family in recent years.

Cheema was senior director in the foreign ministry and was in charge of the Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Nepal desk.

He was accused of sending a number of people abroad illegally on receiving heavy amounts of money.

A NAB official told Dawn that some other officials of the ministry involved in the case would be arrested soon.

Published in Dawn, May 31st, 2016

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