ISLAMABAD: Another accused on Monday sought the accountability court’s permission to become an approver in a reference against former president Asif Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur.
Sher Mohammad offered to stand in the witness box rather than defending himself as an accused three weeks after two women accused expressed their willingness to become approver in the case.
On April 8, Kiran Aman and Noreen Sultan had also moved an application offering to become approver in the case. However, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) said, their application was being processed.
On Monday when Judge Arshad Malik of the accountability court took up the fake bank accounts case against the Pakistan Peoples Party leaders and others, one of the accused, Sher Mohammad, pleaded before the court to allow him to testify as a witness.
At this, the NAB prosecutor informed the court that his application seeking the bureau’s approval had been received. It was being reviewed, he added.
IHC extends pre-arrest bail of Zardari, Faryal till May 15
While the former president, his sister and several other accused appeared before the court, Judge Malik sought explanation over the absence of 73-year-old accused Hussain Lawai at the hearing.
Mr Zardari, Ms Talpur, Omni Group’s Anwar Majid and his sons, and former Pakistan Stock Exchange chairperson Hussain Lawai are among those being investigated in a case related to money laundering of billions through fictitious bank accounts.
In December 2015, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had initiated a discreet investigation into certain bank accounts through which billions of rupees had been transferred on information gathered by an intelligence agency after picking up a prominent money changer in an unrelated case.
The NAB prosecutor informed the court that the bureau had written to the chief secretary of Sindh twice seeking Lawai’s appearance in court. The judge directed the anti-graft watchdog to take up the matter again with the provincial government.
The accountability court also directed the former president and his sister to furnish surety bonds worth Rs2 million each to ensure their attendance at the next hearing.
The judge asked the NAB whether it had any objection to submission of surety bonds by the accused persons. The NAB prosecutor said the accused persons had obtained pre-arrest bail from the Islamabad High Court (IHC). He added that the accused were appearing before the court regularly and it was the court’s privilege to accept surety bonds or not.
Senior counsel Farooq H. Naek, while representing Mr Zardari and Ms Talpur, argued that his clients had obtained pre-arrest bail before NAB had filed a reference against them.
Meanwhile, the IHC also granted extension in pre-arrest bail to the siblings till May 15 after both approached the high court for another extension in their interim pre-arrest bail that was going to expire on Monday.
Earlier on April 10, the IHC had extended pre-arrest bail of Mr Zardari and Ms Talpur till April 29.
A division bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani had taken up the application for the grant of extension in the pre-arrest bail.
During the hearing, the bench directed the NAB prosecutor to inform the court about the total number of inquiries being conducted against the siblings, after taking instructions from NAB authorities.
Strict security measures were taken in and around the court premises. A heavy contingent of police was deployed to prevent any untoward incident. Unauthorised persons were not allowed to enter court premises while journalists were allowed to witness the proceedings.
Published in Dawn, April 30th, 2019