LAHORE: An accountability court on Thursday issued non-bailable arrest warrants of Lahore Development Authority’s former head Ahad Khan Cheema’s family members, including his wife and sisters,for not joining the proceedings of a reference of alleged illegal assets.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in its reference accused Mr Cheema of accumulating assets beyond means in the name of his family members as benamidars, who failed to turn up despite repeated notices issued by the court.

Presiding Judge Amjad Nazir Chaudhry observed that the court provided an opportunity to the benamidars to cross-examine the prosecution witnesses in the reference but they were willfully and deliberately not appearing in the case to delay the proceedings of the trial. The judge issued non-bailable warrants for the arrest of the benamidars and directed the police to produce them before the court on the next hearing.

The alleged benamidars include Mr Cheema’s wife Saima Ahad, sisters Sadia Mansoor, Nazia Ashraf, and others --Nishat Afza, Ahmad Saud Cheema, Ahmad Hassan, Faisal Hassan Randhawa and Sajjad Ahmad Cheema.

To a court query, Mr Cheema confirmed that his brother-in-law Mansoor Ahmad had already passed away and the objections against the prosecution witnesses were filed by Ms Sadia being one of the legal heirs.

On the request of the defence counsel, the judge adjourned hearing till Nov 30 for the cross-examination and the remaining prosecution evidence. The judge also directed the prosecution to ensure the appearance of its witnesses with original record on the next hearing.

The other day, the Supreme Court granted post-arrest bail to Mr Cheema in Punjab Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme reference, almost two years after his arrest by the NAB.

Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2020

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