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Shehbaz Sharif seek exemption from appearing in court

27 June, 2019

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ISLAMABAD: Opposition Leader in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday filed an application before an accountability court seeking exemption from personal appearance in the hearing of the Ramazan Sugar Mills and money laundering cases.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president, through his lawyer filed the application, stating that he was in the federal capital owing to the ongoing budget session of the National Assembly.

Shehbaz, being the opposition leader in the Lower House, had a constitutional role to play, the application said, demanding that he, therefore, be exempted from personal appearance in the hearing.

Earlier, on June 13, the PML-N president had showed up before the court for the first time after his return from London.

The court was hearing cases pertaining to the Ashiana Housing Scheme and Ramzan Sugar Mills. Judge Jawadul Hassan presided over the proceedings.

Taking notice of the absence of Opposition Leader in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz, the judge directed the NAB to present him before the court at the next hearing scheduled for Wednesday, where his physical remand was given to the NAB for 14 more days. Hamza handed over to NAB for another 14 days for questioning

The court directed the corruption watchdog to produce the PML-N leader on the next hearing on July 10.

During the hearing of the assets beyond means case, Hamza’s lawyer contended that the bureau had been carrying out investigation against his client since April. Whenever NAB summoned the PML-N leader, he appeared before it, he added.

“Why hasn’t NAB been able to gather material against my client yet,” he questioned, opposing the bureau’s plea to extend his remand.

He contended that a person could not be arrested on the ground that he did not have a wealth statement.

The counsel argued that neither Hamza nor his family were in power when the companies in question were set up. “All of their assets were declared in tax returns of 2008,” he said, adding that the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) had the entire record of the companies set up by the Sharif family.

A NAB prosecutor contended that the anti-graft watchdog had obtained record of Hamza’s assets from the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR). Hamza’s family owned assets worth Rs 50 million in 2005, which grew manifold in the following years, he said, adding the opposition leader failed to provide money trail of how these assets increased.

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