LAHORE: An accountability court on Tuesday indicted Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif and his son, Opposition Leader in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz, in the Ramzan Sugar Mills case.
Judge Najamul Hassan Najam heard the case against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders. The accused persons were presented before the court amid tight security.
Heavy contingent of police, including the Anti-Riot Force (ARF), was deployed outside the court to maintain law and order as PML-N workers had gathered there.
At the onset, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor apprised the court of the case.
“The case is related to misuse of authority and public funds. A drainage system costing Rs200 million was built only to facilitate Ramzan Sugar Mills. Hamza was the director of the mill while Shehbaz was the then chief minister of Punjab,” the prosecutor informed the court.
Shehbaz tried to speak in his defence, but the court stopped him, remarking that he would be allowed to speak when his turn came. “This [framing charges] is part of the procedure,” remarked Justice Najam.
On their turn, both Shehbaz and Hamza denied the charges, saying the case “is faulty”.
Shehbaz informed the court that during his 10 years as the Punjab chief minister he had saved billions of rupees.
He also denied anything to do with building the drain and releasing funds for the purpose.
The court told him that these were allegations against him that were yet to be proven.
The court, after listening to both the parties, indicted the accused persons and ordered the NAB prosecution to present witnesses and evidence.
Shehbaz skips appearance before NAB
Meanwhile, Shehbaz on Tuesday skipped an appearance before a combined investigation team of NAB at its complex in Thokar Niaz Beg. The anti-graft body had summoned him in the money-laundering case at 11am. He sought another time from NAB by sending his lawyer with a message that he had to appear before an accountability court on the same day.
Alleged frontman of Sharif family remanded
On Tuesday, the accountability court remanded Muhammad Mushtaq, reportedly a frontman of the Sharif family, who was arrested from Allama Iqbal International Airport on Monday, into NAB custody till April 23.
The NAB prosecutor informed the court that a transaction of at least Rs600 million was made from his account into the account of Salman Shehbaz, the son of Shehbaz Sharif.
He also told that Mushtaq was involved in money laundering and was needed so that further investigation could be conducted to unearth the whole network.
After hearing the arguments, NAB handed him over to the anti-graft body on a 14-day physical remand.
Already two accused persons allegedly involved in laundering money for the Sharif family were in NAB’s custody and that too on physical remand.
NAB had unsuccessfully raided the residence of the Sharif family twice to arrest Hamza Shehbaz in assets beyond means and money laundering cases.
The first attempt was frustrated as PML-N workers had put up resistance, while during the second attempt, the Lahore High Court stopped NAB from arresting Hamza.