Zardari’s indictment in Park Lane case put off till 14th

Updated 07 Jul 2020

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The court was scheduled to indict former president Asif Ali Zardari on June 26. — Online/File
The court was scheduled to indict former president Asif Ali Zardari on June 26. — Online/File

ISLAMABAD: An accountability court on Monday deferred the indictment of former president Asif Ali Zardari and other accused in the Park Lane case till July 14.

The court was scheduled to indict Mr Zardari on June 26, but accountability judge Mohammad Azam Khan adjourned the proceedings till July 6 because the arrangements to procure the attendance of the former president through video link had not been made.

On Monday, Mr Zardari as well as other accused joined the proceedings through video link.

However, as the judge was about to start framing the charges, Mr Zardari’s counsel Advocate Farooq H. Naek submitted an application against the indictment. He argued that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had overlooked all the financial laws in the said reference. He pointed out that NAB could not have proceeded in this matter without the mandatory approval of the reference from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).

Accountability court reserves decision on acquittal plea of Sindh Bank’s ex-president

He said prima facie it was a case of willful default and the SBP was the competent forum to initiate proceedings, but NAB took a solo flight and proceeded in this matter on its own in violation of the relevant provisions of financial laws.

Mr Naek claimed that Mr Zardari had no nexus with the private entities that obtained loan from Summit Bank, adding that the bank had already filed a civil suit for recovery of the loan.

Mr Zardari has been accused of being involved “in extending loan and its misappropriation by M/s Parthenon Private Limited, M/s Park Lane Estate Private Limited and others”.

The judge remarked that it has been about a year since the reference was filed and the application is being moved when the court was about to indict the accused persons.

Mr Naek replied that such applications could not be moved in haste and without a careful reading of the reference.

The NAB prosecutor requested the court to proceed in this matter forthwith and he was ready to argue against the application opposing the indictment.

The court, however, adjourned the hearing till July 14.

Meanwhile, the accountability court on Monday reserved its verdict on an application seeking acquittal of Bilal Sheikh, former president of Sindh Bank, in the fake bank accounts case.

Mr Sheikh is accused of extending billions of rupees as loan to the Omni Group when he was president of Sindh Bank.

It was alleged that Sindh Bank had given the loan to the Omni Group on the desire of former president Asif Ali Zardari.

After hearing the arguments of NAB as well as its prosecutor, the court reserved its decision on the acquittal plea.

In January this year, the Islamabad High Court had granted post-arrest bail to Bilal Sheikh.

Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2020