A Rawalpindi accountability court on Tuesday indicted former prime minister Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi in the £190 million corruption case.

Judge Nasir Javed Rana, who has rep­laced Judge Mohammad Bashir as he is retiring in a few weeks, presided over the hearing at Adiala Jail, where the PTI founder is currently incarcerated.

In December, the National Accou­n­t­a­bility Bureau (NAB) had filed a corruption reference against Imran and seven others, including his wife, in connection with the Al-Qadir University.

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 the 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.

Property tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain and his son Ahmed Ali Riaz, Mirza Shehzad Akbar, and Zulfi Buk­hari are also among the suspects in this reference, but instead of joining the investigation and subsequent court proceedings, they absconded and were subsequently dec­lared proclaimed offenders (PO).

Farhat Shahzadi, a close friend of PTI chief Imran Khan’s spouse, and Ziaul Mustafa Nasim, a legal expert for the PTI government’s Assets Recovery Unit, were also declared POs. Subsequently, the properties of all six accused had been frozen.

Judge Bashir was supposed to indict the ex-premier and former first lady on January 26 but the indictment was deferred to January 30. It was then scheduled for February 10 but was again deferred till February 27 (today).

Today, Judge Rana read out the charge sheet against the two. Both Imran and Bushra denied the charges. The court then summoned five NAB witnesses at the next hearing on March 6.

PTI lawyer Umair Niazi confirmed the indictment and that witnesses have been summoned at the next hearing.

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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