Shahbaz, son indicted in Ramzan sugar mills case

Updated 07 Aug 2020

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Shahbaz Sharif appeared before the accountability court while Hamza Shahbaz was produced by the jail officials. — Dawn/File
Shahbaz Sharif appeared before the accountability court while Hamza Shahbaz was produced by the jail officials. — Dawn/File

LAHORE: As an accountability court on Thursday indicted Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shahbaz in the Ramzan Sugar Mills case, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) summoned PML-N vice-president Maryam Nawaz on Aug 11 for “illegally acquiring” hundreds of acres of land in Raiwind in which her father Nawaz Sharif was also allegedly involved.

The NAB on Thursday issued a call notice to Ms Nawaz asking her to appear before a combined investigation team on Aug 11 and bring details of 1,400 kanals she allegedly acquired in Raiwind in 2013 in violation of rules/law.

The bureau also sought details of sources of funds for the purchase of the land and the taxes and duties paid on it. “Provide details of the use of the land, whether it is being used for agriculture cultivation or for any other commercial activity,” the NAB said.

A source told Dawn that the Sharif family in 2013 had acquired 3,568 kanals allegedly in connivance with a former DCO and an ex-DG of the Lahore Development Authority during the tenure of Shahbaz Sharif as chief minister. Out of it, 1,936 kanals were allotted to the Sharif brothers’ mother Shamim Bibi, 96 kanals each to Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif and 1,440 to Ms Nawaz.

“The Sharif family acquired this land adjacent to its Jati Umra residence and had it declared a residential area in 2014 and former LDA head Ahad Cheema, a blue-eyed boy of Shahbaz Sharif, and former Lahore DCO Noorul Amin Mengal played an important role in this regard,” he said, adding the NAB would investigate both officials in coming days.

Maryam summoned to give money trail in Raiwind land purchase

Mr Cheema is already in the judicial custody of NAB in income beyond means and Ashiyana housing cases.

Maryam Nawaz has been on bail in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case since November last. Former premier Nawaz Sharif has been in London since November, 2019 for his medical treatment after securing bail in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills and Al-Azizia Mills corruption case, in which he was serving a seven-year sentence in the Kot Lakhpat jail, Lahore.

Meanwhile, Shahbaz Sharif appeared before the accountability court while Hamza Shahbaz was produced by the jail officials since he was on judicial remand and both were indicted in a supplementary reference in the Ramzan Sugar Mills case.

At the outset of the hearing, Shahbaz’s counsel Amjad Pervez requested the court to let his client leave as he had to attend a joint session of the parliament. He also requested the court to delay the indictment as he wanted to file acquittal applications on behalf of Shahbaz and Hamza.

However, Presiding Judge Amjad Nazir Chaudhry observed that the acquittal application under section 265-K of the CrPC could be filed even after the indictment. The judge also noted that the suspects had already been indicted while the new process was meant to add more charges as the NAB had filed a supplementary reference.

In a series of dialogues with the judge, Mr Shahbaz said he served the people of Punjab for 10 years. He said he never used public money even for his car’s fuel during his tenure as chief minister.

He claimed to have saved Rs100 billion in the Orange Line Metro train project. He regretted that NAB had made a case against him about a drain worth Rs200 million close to the mills.

The judge permitted him to take a seat as he complained of pain in his back. The judge later indicted the duo and directed NAB to present its witnesses on the next date of hearing, Aug 27. Previously, they were indicted in the same case in April 2019.

The NAB alleged that Shahbaz, being chief minister of Punjab, had issued a directive for construction of a drain in district Chiniot primarily for the use of the sugar mills owned by his sons.

It said Rs200m was spent for this purpose from public money. The Lahore High Court released Shahbaz on post-arrest bail in this case on Feb 14, 2019 while Hamza, the leader of opposition in the Punjab Assembly, was granted bail on Feb 6.

Published in Dawn, August 7th, 2020