Shehbaz, Hamza’s indictment deferred

Published February 19, 2022
From right to left: PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, his son Hamza Shehbaz and PML-N deputy secretary general Ata Tarar. — Photo via Twitter/File
From right to left: PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, his son Hamza Shehbaz and PML-N deputy secretary general Ata Tarar. — Photo via Twitter/File

LAHORE: A special court on Friday deferred the indictment of Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly and PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shehbaz in a money-laundering case, registered by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), due to unavailability of readable copies of the challan (investigation report).

Earlier, both suspects appeared before the court along with their legal team.

A defence lawyer told the court (Central-I) that most of the copies of the challan supplied by the prosecution at the last hearing were not readable. He asked the court to order the prosecution team to provide them readable copies before the indictment.

A prosecutor said the defence was trying to delay the indictment only.

However, Presiding Judge Ijaz Hassan Awan directed the prosecution to furnish the copies again required by the defence.

With the court’s permission, Shehbaz Sharif expressed his concern over the FIA’s partiality, saying he had been targeted on “political grounds”.

The opposition leader said he spent seven months in jail in a case made by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the FIA had also interrogated him during his incarceration. He said NAB had arrested him in Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme reference when he appeared in another reference of Punjab Saaf Pani Company. Shehbaz Sharif said all the suspects in the Saaf Pani reference had recently been acquitted by the trial court. He said former head of the FIA, Bashir Memon, disclosed that Prime Minister Imran Khan forced him to implicate him (Shehbaz) and ousted premier Nawaz Sharif in fake cases.

The lawyers for defence and prosecution had a heated argument when a prosecutor asked the court whether the statement given by Shehbaz Sharif was final.

Advocate Ata Tarar, who is also deputy secretary general of the PML-N, warned the prosecutor against try to “teach” the defence as Shehbaz Sharif was speaking to the court.

The judge ordered the lawyers to stay calm and adjourned the hearing till Feb 28 for the indictment of Shehbaz, Hamza and other suspects in the case.

Later, the father and son duo appeared before an accountability court to attend the trial proceedings in a reference of money laundering and illegal assets.

The defence counsel completed the cross-examination of two prosecution witnesses, while as many other witnesses recorded their statements.

Presiding Judge Naseem Ahmad Virk adjourned the hearing till Feb 25 for the cross-examination of more witnesses.

Outside the court, when asked about the reason behind the adjournment of the National Assembly’s session, Shehbaz Sharif said it was deferred due to his appearance before the special court for the indictment.

The opposition leader said the FIA thought he would skip the court appearance due to the session.

Mr Shehbaz, however, did not respond to a query about the fate of the possible no-confidence motion against the government.

Besides the party workers, PML-N MNA Rana Tanvir, Marriyum Aurangzeb and other leaders also visited the court to express solidarity with the party president.

Published in Dawn, February 19th, 2022

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