PESHAWAR: An accountability court on Saturday acquitted the former divisional forest officer and a close aide of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Musa Khan Baloch, and three other people on the charge of possessing illegal assets and embezzlement of official funds.

The court presided over by judge Naveed Ahmad Khan ruled that the prosecution had badly failed to prove the charges against the accused facing trial beyond any reasonable doubt hence they were acquitted from the charges levelled against them.

The accused Musa Khan, his alleged associate Mohammad Arsalan Aziz and two foresters of Dera Ismail Khan Forest division, Mohammad Farooq and Qaiser Abbas Baloch were indicted by the court in Jan last year on multiple charges.

Musa Khan, who is also a JUI-F member, was arrested by the National Accountability Bureau, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in Sept 2020 and was granted bail by the Peshawar High Court in July 2021. He was also the chief of the party’s Paharpur tehsil, DI Khan, while his son, Tariq Baloch, was the personal secretary of JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

NAB had filed reference against him over illegal asset, funds embezzlement

The NAB had alleged that the reference was Rs56.03 million assets of Musa Khan, his bank transactions and funds embezzlement.

It added that the prime accused in league with other accused embezzled a huge amount of funds of the Sustainable Land Management Programme, which was meant for desertification and land degradation in the province.

The NAB claimed that the prime accused, who retired in 2017, possessed assets to the tune of Rs19.297 million, which was disproportionate to his known sources of income.

It alleged that the prime accused had spent Rs30,000 on Umrah in 1993 and the source of Rs25,175 of the expenditure was not known.

Senior advocate Qazi Jawad Ahsanullah appeared for the accused and contended that the records produced by the prosecution was in favour of his clients.

He argued that the assets of Musa Khan shown by the NAB were much below his known sources of income.

The lawyer pointed out that a property, which was transferred to Musa Khan and his brother by their mother in 2004, was purchased in 1986 and their father was alive at that time.

He contended that the Nab tried to show that the said property was in fact purchased by the accused in 1986 and his mother was his benamidar, but the prosecution could not produce any evidence to prove that claim.

Qazi Jawad contended that the prosecution could not produce a single witness to prove that the property belonged to Musa Khan and not his mother.

He added that the worth of the said property was more than the assets, which the bureau claimed was acquired through illegal means.

About the alleged embezzlement of the SLMP funds, the counsel contended that the entire purchases made in that project were of Rs900,000 only.

He contended that the project was a foreign-funded one and the donor had verified the procurement made in it and no misappropriation of any fund was found in it.

Published in Dawn, July 3rd, 2022

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