Hamesh Khan to return by May 14

Qaiser Zulfiqar May 10, 2010

ISLAMABAD: Hamesh Khan is to be brought before the Supreme Court on May 14 informed Mehmood A Sheikh, counsel for the former president of the Bank of Punjab, to the court on Monday.

Sheikh told the three-member Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and comprising Justice Ghulam Rabbani and Justice Khalilur Ramday, that all arrangements regarding his client’s repatriation have been made and that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has acquired visas and tickets for travel to the US.

The US government has expressed reservations over Khan’s repatriation as he filed an application in a US court that he would be subject to torture during his questioning in Pakistan, said Sheikh. In response, the Chief Justice questioned Sheikh’s trust in the judicial system and brought up the case of Sheikh Afzal, the owner of Haris Steel Industries, Lahore, and the main accused in the Bank of Punjab fraud.

“We brought him [Sheikh Afzal] from Dubai and tried him fairly, warning the Bank of Punjab not to harass his family. As a result, his son is freely moving about in society,” he said. “We will try him fairly and will not allow anybody to torture him,” Justice Chaudhry assured the counsel. The hearing was adjourned till May 14, and the Chief Justice ordered the Deputy Prosecutor General NAB, Raja Amir, to present Khan before the court as soon as possible – on the same day if he arrived in the morning, or the next day if he reached Pakistan in the evening.

Meanwhile Advocate General Punjab Khawaja Haris appeared before the bench and informed the court that Afzal’s family had signed all the Bank of Punjab required documents for the auctioning of the property. Justice Chaudhry asked Haris to bring in the highest bids for the property while warning him to make the entire process transparent. Haris informed the bench that Afzal’s counsel, Uzair Bhindari, was asking for the property’s papers, citing potential clients. Harris, however, refused to give them to Bhindari.

The Chief Justice suggested Haris constitute a committee to auction the property. The committee should be led by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court and include Bhindari as a member, along with the SC registrar and a Bank of Punjab representative. “Do not involve outsiders in this process,” the chief justice concluded.

Published in the Express Tribune, May 11th, 2010.


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