An accountability court on Friday rejected the National Accountability Bureau's (NAB) request for an extension in the physical remand of Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz in the Ramzan Sugar Mills case.
However, the PML-N leader will remain in the accountability bureau's custody as he is on physical remand till July 10 in a money laundering/assets beyond means case.
The Punjab Assembly opposition leader was arrested on June 11 after the Lahore High Court dismissed as withdrawn his bail petitions in the two inquiries — money laundering/assets beyond means and Ramzan Sugar Mills case. Following this, NAB was granted physical remand of Hamza till June 26 which was then further extended.
While rejecting NAB's request for an extension in physical remand in the Ramzan Sugar Mills case today, the court sent him on judicial remand and ordered that the PML-N leader be presented again on July 20.
Upon arrival in the courtroom, Hamza met with his father, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif.
During the proceedings, NAB prosecutor Waris Ali Janjua said that the bureau had called various suspects in the Ramzan Sugar Mills case but they had not appeared before the bureau.
Janjua also said that Hamza was not cooperating with the investigation.
The accountability court judge Naeem Arshad asked the bureau why they wanted further physical remand of the PML-N leader, to which the prosecutor responded that two suspects in the case had not appeared before the bureau.
Hamza's lawyer also presented his arguments in the court and said that NAB had previously made the same request for physical remand. He asked why there was a need for physical remand if a reference had been filed in the Ramzan Sugar Mills case.
He said Ramzan Sugar Mill employee Javed Iqbal was cooperating with NAB and had also appeared before the accountability bureau.
In an informal conversation with journalists in the courtroom, Hamza expressed concern about the arrest of PML-N Punjab president MNA Rana Sanaullah Khan. He said that when nothing could be found against Sanaullah, a drug case was made.
"Rana Sanaullah's family is my family," he said.
During the proceedings, PML-N President Shehbaz said he wanted to present facts about the Ramzan Sugar Mills case and claimed that NAB had made a "propaganda, fake and baseless case".
"God is a witness, NAB is making a fake case and is humiliating me," he said.
Shehbaz explained that in 2015, the Sindh government had set the price of sugarcane at Rs181 while they [the Punjab government] had set it at Rs180. He added that the Sindh government had then reduced the rate to Rs165.
"God is a witness, we all need to go into a grave one day," Shehbaz remarked, adding: "God give me a harsh punishment if I lie."
He said his government had given the farmers a higher rate than the Sindh government so that they [the farmers] could be assisted.
Shehbaz clarified that he was not blaming the Sindh government and said that the Sindh High Court had set the sugarcane price at Rs175.
"I had a lot of pressure to reduce the rate, [however] I said I will tender my resignation but not snatch away rights of farmers."
The NAB prosecutor objected to Shehbaz's remarks, noting that the trial was not taking place today and there was no need for his comments.