LAHORE: A special court (offences in bank) on Friday allowed an objection raised by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to its jurisdiction to hear the money laundering and sugar scam inquiry trial against the National Assembly opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza.

Judge Tahir Sabir announced a reserved decision on an FIA application and also returned the challan (investigating report) to the prosecution, earlier filed against the suspects.

Earlier, during the course of arguments, the judge asked the prosecution and the defence as to what would be the fate of the pre-arrest bail granted to the suspects in case the proceedings were shifted to an other court.

The defence counsel, Amjad Pervez, stated the bail petitions would automatically be shifted to the other court, along with the trial proceedings.

The judge extended the bail of Shehbaz and Hamza for seven days, allowing them to file the petitions afresh before the new court. The judge also returned the challan to the FIA to be submitted before a Special Judge (Central-I).

Earlier, the prosecution told the court that the agency had cleared the officials of different banks of any charge in the challan.

Hamza appeared before the court, while an application for one-time exemption from personal appearance was filed on behalf of Shehbaz as he was not available due to the National Assembly session in Islamabad. The court allowed the application.

The FIA had booked Shehbaz and his sons Hamza and Suleman in November 2020 under sections 419, 420, 468, 471, 34 and 109 – financial fraud, impersonation and forgery – of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and 5(2) and 5(3) – criminal misconduct – of Prevention of Corruption Act and r/w 3/4 of Anti Money Laundering Act.

Suleman Shehbaz is absconding in the UK.

Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2022

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