LAHORE: An accountability court on Thursday allowed one-time exemption from appearance to Leader of Opposition in Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz in Ramzan Sugar Mills reference over health grounds, but termed his medical report vague as filed by the jail’s doctor.

Asked about the condition of Mr Hamza, the jail doctor told the court that the under-trial prisoner was unable to walk because of pain in his joints since he recently recovered from Covid-19. However, he said, Mr Hamza had not been admitted to the jail’s hospital.

Presiding Judge Amjad Nazir Chaudhry, however, noted that the report filed by the doctor simply showed that Mr Hamza had pain in his legs. The judge observed that the report did not support the oral assertions of the doctor.

“Write a good report at least if you want to favour someone,” the judge told the doctor.

He, however, allowed one-time exemption from personal appearance to Hamza and adjourned the hearing till Jan 16.

A pleader, on behalf of Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif, appeared before the court since he had been exempted from personal appearance till conclusion of the trial.

In its reference, the NAB alleged that Mr Shehbaz, being chief minister of Punjab, had issued a directive for the construction of a drain in Chiniot district “primarily for the use of Ramzan Sugar Mills” owned by his sons- Hamza and Suleman. It said Rs200 million was spent on the drain’s construction from the public money.

The judge also adjourned hearing of Punjab Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme case against Mr Shehbaz, former principal secretary to prime minister Fawad Hassan Fawad, former head of the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) Ahad Khan Cheema and others.

The defence counsel completed the cross-examination of five prosecution witnesses.

The judge summoned more witnesses on Jan 14.

PARAGON CITY: An accountability court on Thursday recorded statements of two prosecution witnesses in the Paragon City reference against former railways minister Khwaja Saad Rafiq and his brother former provincial minister Khwaja Salman Rafiq.

Presiding Judge Jawadul Hassan directed the NAB to present more witnesses on Jan 18.

The judge also advised the Khwaja brothers against bringing party workers to the court in view of the coronavirus. The judge said he did not want to pass an order in this regard and expected that the political leaders would act responsibly.

Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2021

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