KARACHI: An accountability court reserved on Wednesday its judgement on an application of builder Zain Malik for recording his statement through video link from the United Kingdom in a case pertaining to alleged illegal amalgamation of commercial land for a multistorey building in Karachi.

Former Karachi mayor and Pak Sarzameen Party chairman Syed Mustafa Kamal; Zain Malik, son-in-law of the real estate tycoon Malik Riaz; former Karachi district coordination officer Fazlur Rehman; former executive district officer Iftikhar Kaimkhani and others are facing trial in the case.

On Wednesday, the matter came up before the accountability court-III judge Dr Sher Bano Karim.

Mr Kamal, Mr Kaimkhani, Mr Rehman, Mr Mumtaz Haider, Mr Syed Nishat Ali, Mr Mohammad Dawood, Mr Mohammad Rafi and Mr Mohammad Irfan appeared on bail.

Advocate Amir Raza Naqvi moved an application on behalf of Zain Malik under Section 540-A of the criminal procedure code read with Section 70-C of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.

In the plea, it was submitted that the applicant was abroad reportedly for his treatment and could not travel to the country due to his health condition.

Therefore, it was requested that Mr Malik’s statement may be recorded through video link from the UK and charges may be framed against him in the present case, as an accountability court had recently indicted former ailing president Asif Ali Zardari in the Park Lane case after recording his statement through video link.

However, NAB special public prosecutor Shahbaz Sahotra opposed the plea, arguing that the applicant was trying to delay the trial proceedings by moving such application, as first the applicant should surrender before the court, as required under the law.

He further contended that the applicant was still absconding, as he never appeared before the court to join the trial, therefore, his application for recording his statement through video link could not be allowed, as there was no such precedence.

Mr Sahotra maintained that Zain Malik’s case was different from that of Mr Zardari’s, who had duly obtained bail from the court of law and also surrendered before the court, before his health condition had deteriorated and subsequently the court had allowed the request to record his statement through video link.

After hearing arguments from both sides, the judge reserved her verdict on the application to be announced later.

Meanwhile, the defence counsel was given two-day time to submit any case law, wherein any suspect had been allowed to record his statement prior to his/her surrendering before the court in the past.

A defence counsel for Mohammad Yaqoob also moved an application, pleading to the court to condone his absence for the day since he was out of the country and could not travel back due to flights closure.

The judge fixed the matter on Sept 3.

Published in Dawn, August 20th, 2020