LAHORE: PML-Q leader Moonis Elahi was released here on Friday after he had been acquitted by a district and sessions judge in the National Insurance Company (NICL) scam.

Accepting Mr Elahi’s application for acquittal, Judge Mujahid Mustaqeem said the prosecution had failed to prove charges of money-laundering against him.

The son of former Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Pervez Elahi was in the court along with a number of workers of his party when the judge announced the verdict he had reserved last week.

The judgment said the petitioner had not been nominated in the FIR and the statements of his manager Mohammad Maalik and other co-accused did not establish his role in the scam.

It said officials of the banks concerned had also not given statements against the petitioner.

The judge said it was a settled rule that statements of co-accused could not be taken as potential evidence against an accused unless independent evidence was available.

Under these circumstances, then verdict said, the petitioner could not be kept behind bars and was entitled to acquittal. When the judgment was announced, the PML-Q workers in the court started shouting slogans in favour of their leader and the judiciary.

The party’s MNA Akram Gill, MPAs Samina Khawar Hayat, Seemal Kamran, Majida Zaidi and Amina Ulfat and others garlanded Mr Elahi who was taken to his sub-jail from where he was released in the evening.

Mr Elahi had announced that he would address a press conference but he changed the decision at the eleventh hour reportedly on instructions of his elders.

The Federal Investigation Agency had registered two cases against him on Dec 27, 2010, and Jan 27 this year, alleging that his manager had opened accounts in the Allied Bank and Dubai Islamic Bank and accused Mohsin Warraich had deposited Rs320 million in them. It alleged that Mr Maalik had confessed to having opened the accounts on instruction of Moonis Elahi.

After the registration of the cases, Moonis Elahi went abroad, but returned after some time and secured an interim bail from the Lahore high Court. The court cancelled the bail on March 17 and he surrendered to the FIA.

Initially, the trial was conducted by a special judge for banking offences, Malik Abdul Rasheed, but he refused to proceed with the case and referred it to the LHC, saying the counsel for Moonis Elahi had been trying to influence the court.

Later, the LHC chief justice assigned the case to the sessions judge.

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