LAHORE: The accountability courts on Saturday adjourned hearings of the money laundering and Ramzan Sugar Mills references against Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif and others as the defence continued cross-examination of the prosecution witnesses.

As the Kot Lakhpat jail officials brought Shehbaz and his son, Leader of Opposition in Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz, to the court for the proceedings, the PML-N workers gathered outside the judicial complex to welcome their leaders.

PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz also arrived at the court to express solidarity with her imprisoned uncle and cousin. She discussed the current political situation with Shehbaz in the courtroom and also met Hamza.

Advocate Amjad Pervez, the defence counsel, cross-examined two officials of land revenue department -- Muhammad Sharif and Muhammad Shafiq -- the prosecution witnesses.

Shehbaz raps Buzdar govt over poor sanitation

During the hearing, Shehbaz also talked about the issue of solid waste in Lahore and lashed out at the government for its failure to serve the people.

Presiding Judge Jawadul Hassan asked the opposition leader not to use the court’s proceedings as a press conference. However, Shehbaz kept on talking on the waste management issue. He claimed to have saved $107 million after the award of the contract to a Turkish company for lifting the waste.

Mr Shehbaz said he worked for strengthening the friendly relations among Pakistan, Turkey and China.

The judge adjourned the hearing till Jan 20 and directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to present more witnesses.

The NAB accused Mr Shehbaz of being a beneficiary of the assets held in the name of his family members and benamidars, who had no sources to acquire such assets.

It alleged the family members and benamidars of the Shehbaz received fake foreign remittances worth billions in their personal bank accounts.

In addition to these remittances, the bureau said, billions of rupees were laundered by way of foreign pay orders, which were deposited in “personal bank accounts of his sons Hamza and Suleman.”

In this reference, Shehbaz’s wife Nusrat, son Suleman and son-in-law Haroon Yousaf had been declared absconders for avoiding the trial proceedings.

Another accountability court Judge, Amjad Nazir Chaudhry, adjourned the hearing of the Ramzan Sugar Mills reference till Jan 26 as the defence counsel cross-examined a prosecution witness.

The judge directed the NAB to produce more witnesses on the next hearing.

The bureau alleged that Shehbaz, being chief minister of Punjab, issued a directive for the construction of a drain in Chiniot district primarily for the use of the mills owned by his sons. It said Rs200m was spent for this purpose from the public money.

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2021

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