LAHORE: An accountability court on Wednesday issued notices to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on acquittal applications of Railways Minister Khwaja Saad Rafiq and his brother, former minister Salman Rafiq, in Paragon City reference.

The applications filed through Advocate Amjad Pervez stated that the reference against the petitioners had been filed with a mala fide intention and on political considerations.

It said the witnesses presented by the prosecution gave no adverse statement against the petitioners, who asked the court to acquit them in the reference.

The court directed the NAB’s special prosecutor to submit replies to the acquittal applications by Thursday (today).

The NAB had accused the Khwaja brothers of wrongfully gaining Rs18.2 million approximately from M/s Paragon City (pvt) Limited through their bank accounts.

It said the Khwaja brothers, through their “benamidars” and with the abetment of former MPA Qaiser Amin Butt and Nadeem Zia, established a housing project in the name of Air Avenue.

It said the accused persons, along with other accomplices, cheated the public at large and obtained illegal financial benefits from the funds of the illegal society.

The NAB had arrested the Khwaja brothers on Dec 11, 2018, after the Lahore High Court had rejected a plea to extend their pre-arrest bail they enjoyed for three months. They remained in the bureau’s custody till Feb 2, 2019, when the trial court sent them to jail on judicial remand. They were later released by the Supreme Court on bail.

Former MPA Butt initially became a NAB approver, however, recently he resiled from his previous stance and told the trial court that the anti-corruption watchdog had pressurised him to extract a statement against the accused persons.

Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2022

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