Zardari to remain in NAB custody till July 2 after court grants extension in physical remand

Published June 21, 2019
In this file photo, former president Asif Ali Zardari leaves the Islamabad High Court on June 10. — AP/File
In this file photo, former president Asif Ali Zardari leaves the Islamabad High Court on June 10. — AP/File

An accountability court in Islamabad on Friday granted the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) an 11-day extension in the physical remand of former president Asif Ali Zardari.

Following the decision to extend Zardari's remand till July 2, a NAB team left the court with the former president.

A day after his arrest in the fake accounts reference on June 10, accountability court judge Mohammad Arshad Malik had granted NAB physical remand of the former president and ordered that Zardari be presented before the court again on June 21 (today).

Earlier on Friday morning, a NAB team presented the former president before Judge Malik and requested a 14-day extension in Zardari's physical remand.

A report of the investigation conducted was presented in court and NAB Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Khan Abbasi also submitted a report of Zardari's medical check-up.

Judge Malik said that the prosecutor wanted to share what they had uncovered so far, to which Zardari's counsel Latif Khosa responded: "They haven't found out anything, they are just making up stories because this entire case is based upon assumptions."

Zardari came to the rostrum when Sardar Abbasi asked him if he wanted to say anything.

"He just wants to hear what is being said about him," added Khosa.

"We want to hear what all NAB has found out," said Judge Malik.

"He [Zardari] wants to hear what all NAB is making up," said Khosa.

In response, the NAB deputy prosecutor general said that they were not making anything up, adding that they were sharing what had been uncovered in the investigation.

He said that during the investigation, Zardari had admitted to having a close relationship with a fugitive named Nasir Abdullah. However, Zardari did not admit that Abdullah was his frontman, the lawyer added.

Zardari's lawyer said that in his statement, the former president had said that he knew Abdullah but they had not had any financial exchanges.

"It is not a crime to know a person," said Farooq H Naek, the other lawyer representing Zardari.

Khosa then added: "Cases are being made against us on a political basis."

"This is not the first time this is happening with us, it has also happened in the past," he added.

In response, Zardari said: "There is no issue, the judge sahib is looking at this," adding that the judge was "very honest" and would make his decision on the basis of a standard.

"We have complete faith in the country's judiciary," Khosa added.

As the accountability bureau requested a 14-day extension in Zardari's physical remand, the former president said that 90-day remand should be granted once instead of the repeated requests for 14-day remand.

Strict security

Ahead of Zardari's appearance before the court, strict security arrangements were made and all routes leading to the court were closed.

PPP leaders — including Senator Sassui Palijo, Shahida Rehmani, Senator Gianchand and others — who were gathered outside the court were initially stopped by police from entering. They were eventually allowed entry into the court.

PPP Secretary General Nayyar Bukhari, Amir Fida Paracha as well as the former president's lawyers also reached the accountability court. While speaking to media, Zardari's counsel Khosa said, "It is the court's decision whether it favours its judicial orders or whether the NAB chairman overpowers them."

On June 10, a 15-member NAB team, accompanied by police personnel, had arrested Zardari from his residence in Islamabad after the cancellation of his pre-arrest bail by the Islamabad High Court in the fake bank accounts case.

During the previous hearing at the accountability court, NAB had presented the grounds for his arrest.

These were:

  • Whitening ill-gotten money through fake accounts

  • Acquiring stakes in Summit Bank through fraudulent means

  • Using the Omni Group as a hedge between himself and fake accounts

  • Receiving 'millions of rupees' from two fake accounts

  • Getting unauthorised payments released for construction of a Karachi plot

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