An Islamabad accountability court on Monday issued non-bailable arrest warrants for property tycoon Malik Riaz, former special assistants to the premier Mirza Shahzad Akbar and Zulfi Bukhari, and three others in the reference filed in connection with the Al-Qadir Trust case.

Non-bailable arrest warrants were also issued for Farhat Shahzadi, a close friend of the spouse of ex-premier Imran Khan, lawyer Ziaul Mustafa Nasim, and Riaz’s son Ali Ahmed Riaz.

Last week, the National Accou­n­t­a­bility Bureau (NAB) had filed the reference against Imran and seven others, including his wife Bushra Bibi, in connection with the Al-Qadir Trust case.

The case alleges that Imran and Bushra Bibi obtained billions of rupees and land worth hundreds of kanals from Bahria Town Ltd for legalising Rs50 billion that was identified and returned to the country by the UK during the previous PTI government.

The reference filed by NAB alleged that Imran, who is currently in jail, played a “pivotal role in illicit transfer of funds meant for the state of Pakistan into an account designated for the payment of land by Bahria Town, Karachi”. It also claimed that despite being given multiple opportunities to justify and provide information, the accused deliberately, with mala fide intention, refused to give information on one pretext or another.

Shahzadi, former special assistants to the premier Bukhari and Akbar, lawyer Nasim, and property tycoon Riaz and his son were also named in the reference.

Today, Islamabad Accountability Judge Muhammad Bashir issued a written order, which noted that Imran was already in judicial lockup and was presented in court in connection with another case — the cipher case.

He directed that a notice be issued to the Adiala jail superintendent, where Imran is incarcerated, to produce the PTI leader at the next hearing scheduled for December 6 (Wednesday).

At the same time, the judge noted that Bushra Bibi had secured interim bail from the courts and directed that she be informed to appear at the next hearing.

The other six suspects named in the reference, the judge said, were “stated as at large” and thus ordered that non-bailable arrest warrants be issued and reports be submitted at the next date without fail.

The order said trial proceedings in the reference would be conducted at Adiala jail or wherever those nominated in the case were confined, as per a notification issued by the law ministry on November 14.

The reference

The reference said the “accused […] were given multiple opportunities to justify and provide information, but they deliberately, with malafide intention, refused to provide the information on one or the other pretext.

“Furthermore, it is established through their responses that they have nothing in their defence to rebut the above-mentioned allegations. Thus, they all have committed an offence” under the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO).

It added that the investigation proceedings and findings so far “established that accused persons in connivance with each other have committed the offence of corruption and corrupt practices” as defined under the NAO.

The reference said Imran played a “pivotal role” in the illicit transfer of funds which were meant for the state which ultimately benefited Riaz.

Akbar, a former special assistant to the premier and Asset Recovery Unit chief, played a “crucial role” in the “illegal design of the funds” which were meant for the state, the reference said.

Malik, the reference said, had “actively aided, abetted and assisted and acted in conspiracy” with the other respondents for the diversion of funds earmarked for the state.

Bushra Bibi and Shahzadi also played a “significant” and “crucial” role in the “illegal activities”, the latter also a “front woman” for Imran and his wife, it said.

The reference said that it was “just and proper” to proceed against the eight suspects as there was “sufficient incriminating evidence” available to justify the reference.

It pleaded that the eight suspects be tried and punished in accordance with the law by the court or any other to which the reference was entrusted.

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