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Govt fed fake news to UK tabloid to malign me, Shahbaz tells court

Updated July 21, 2019

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With the permission of the court, Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif spoke in his defence and complained about his alleged character assassination at the hands of the government.  — DawnNewsTV/File
With the permission of the court, Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif spoke in his defence and complained about his alleged character assassination at the hands of the government. — DawnNewsTV/File

LAHORE: An accountability court on Saturday adjourned the hearing of Ramzan Sugar Mills reference without any progress as the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) did not produce Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz in the court.

However, Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif, Hamza’s father, appeared before the court.

When asked about the absence of Mr Hamza, NAB special prosecutor Waris Ali Janjua told the court the suspect was on physical remand in another case of assets beyond means/money laundering and the investigating officer of that case was not informed about the proceedings in the sugar mills case.

Hamza not produced in sugar mills case

He said the NAB would have produced the suspect if the court had directed it.

Mr Hamza’s counsel interrupted and stated that there was a clear direction for the bureau to present the suspect.

The court adjourned the hearing till Aug 1 and instructed the prosecutor to ensure appearance of Mr Hamza next time.

With the permission of the court, Mr Sharif also spoke in his defence and complained about his alleged character assassination at the hands of the government.

He alleged that the government got published a “baseless news” against him in a United Kingdom newspaper. He added the “bogus report” also brought a bad name to Pakistan.

Mr Sharif said the government should have presented evidence before the court if it had anything against him. “To me, misusing earthquake victims fund is like eating carrion,” he added.

In the sugar mills case, the NAB alleged that Mr Sharif, being chief minister of Punjab, approved construction of a drain in Chiniot with a cost of Rs360 million only to benefit Ramzan Sugar Mills owned by his sons Hamza and Salman.

It said the approval of the construction was given on a fake application filed by the then MPA Maulana Rehmatullah showing the drain as a public project. It said public funds were misused for the benefit of family business of the suspects.

On the last hearing, the court had denied further custody of Mr Hamza to the NAB in the mills case and sent him to jail on judicial remand.

Published in Dawn, July 21st, 2019