LAHORE: An accountability court on Wednesday extended physical remand of the Leader of Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz in a case of alleged money laundering and assets beyond means.
NAB official produced Mr Hamza in the court amid strict security arrangements, while lawyers belonging to the PML-N had heated arguments with the police officials for denying them access to the courtroom. The lawyers chanted slogans against the judge of the Islamabad accountability court who convicted former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in Al-Azizia reference.
As the presiding judge, Ameer Muhammad Khan, resumed hearing, special prosecutor Hafiz Asadullah Awan submitted an application requesting the court to extend physical remand of the suspect for another 15 days, saying his custody was required for the completion of investigation.
PA Opp leader says Imran has been ‘exposed’
When asked by the judge, he pointed out that the suspect was in the NAB custody for the last 28 days. He said the suspect failed to satisfy the interrogators regarding the purchase of a plot in Model Town worth Rs140 million.
He further told the court that the suspect also failed to justify an amount of Rs55 million he received in his personal account in Edgerton Road branch of the Saudi Pak Bank in 2005.
The prosecutor said the bureau required custody of the suspect to investigate foreign remittances and properties purchased by him between 2013 and 2017.
He said the NAB was yet to receive record from the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) about the suspect’s properties, which he declared in tax documents but undervalued them. He said the suspect had paid for a Model Town house registered in the name of his mother.
He said 18 persons involved in sending foreign remittances to Mr Hamza had been summoned by the NAB, therefore, his custody was needed so that he could confront them.
However, defence counsel Amjad Pervez opposed further remand of the suspect and argued that any further investigation by the NAB into the declared properties was unjustified. He said the NAB came up with no new revelation during the suspect’s previous remand.
Mr Hamza also spoke with the permission of the judge and said the NAB had started its investigation from Rs85 billion and the amount had been reduced to Rs33 billion. “And now it is talking about Rs180 million,” he said and added that he felt pity over the helplessness of the NAB officials.
“Please grant my three-month remand to the NAB at once,” he requested the judge and claimed that he would quit politics if found guilty of misappropriating even a single penny.
The judge, however, allowed the NAB’s application and extended physical remand of Hamza for 14 days, till July 24.
In a brief conversation with the media, Mr Hamza said Prime Minister Imran Khan stood exposed during the first 10 months of his government. He said the slogan of “Naya Pakistan” was a fraud with the nation. He said Imran Khan had been proved an “undisputed king of lies”.
Published in Dawn, July 11th, 2019