Former PIA chairman acquitted

Published September 14, 2008

KARACHI A special judge of the federal anti-corruption and emigration court on Saturday acquitted the former federal minister and the ex-chairman of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, and others in a corruption case due to a lack of incriminating evidence.
Mr Abbasi along with his associates was charged with causing losses to the tune of Rs11 million to the national exchequer in the procurement of 200 computers for the national flag carrier during his tenure as chairman of the PIA in 1998-99.
The judge, Shaukat Ali Memon, pronounced his verdict after recording final arguments from both sides. The court also acquitted the co-accused former general manager of the PIA, Syed Nasir Ali, and the former finance director, Luqman Jacki, of corruption charges.
The judge in his verdict observed that the prosecution had failed to produce any oral or documentary evidence in court that could prove the involvement of the accused in the alleged offence.
The defence counsel, Shaukat Hayat, in his final arguments said that his clients were innocent and were implicated in the case on political grounds, adding that the prosecution had failed to produce any solid evidence against the accused despite the lapse of nine years.
He further submitted that the reservation section of the PIA had asked the management to import computers in order to update the section adding that the computers were imported after completing all the legal formalities and the PIA central purchase committee had also approved the contract while Mr Abbasi was also authorised by the board of directors to purchase or import any equipment for the organisation.
He argued that the prosecution did not produce any evidence to prove misappropriation in the computers' contract. Pleading for the acquittal of his clients, he said that Mr Abbasi was implicated in the case following his acquittal from a plane hijacking case at the behest of his political opponents.
However, the special public prosecutor argued that prosecution had proved the case against the accused by providing sufficient evidence and requested the court to award them maximum punishment.
The prosecution had produced around seven witnesses before the trial court.
A case (FIR No5/99) was registered against the accused at the FIA Circle police station under Sections 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant or by banker, merchant or agent), 119/34 (public servant concealing design to commit offence which it is his duty to prevent - if offence be committed) of the Pakistan Penal Code read with Section 5 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1947.
Gulgee's murder case
A district and sessions court once again deferred indictment of two suspects nominated in the murder case of renowned artist Ismail Gulgee, his wife and a maidservant till Sept 20.
The court deferred the indictment due to a provincial government's notification stating that Mohammad Ashraf Qazi had been appointed as special public prosecutor to represent the complainant, Amin Gulgee, in the case.
Gulgee and his wife, Zareen Gulgee, with their maid Asiya were strangled to death by unidentified men in their house situated in the Boat Basin police limits on December 19, 2007. The bodies found were three days after the incident while the driver and a servant had gone missing along with a car belonging to the deceased.
The police had registered a case (FIR No 490/07) at the Boat Basin police station under Section 302/34 of the Pakistan Penal Code.
Gulgee's driver, Akram Ali, and another servant, Anwar, had disappeared along with the couple's car but were arrested on February 16 from a hotel near the Cantonment railway station. Later, they were sent to jail.
The indictment of these suspects has been deferred a number of times during the last four months since one of the suspects has not engaged a counsel. Earlier, one of the suspects, Akram Ali, filed an application seeking a counsel from the state, maintaining that he could not hire a lawyer. Later, the district and sessions judge, South, Arjun Ram K. Talreja, had accepted his plea and had directed the relevant authorities to arrange for a lawyer.
However, on pervious hearing the court was informed that a counsel was arranged for the suspect and he would be available from the next date of hearing.

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