A special central court judge fixed October 8 for further arguments on acquittal applications of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and former chief minister Punjab Hamza Shehbaz in the money laundering case of Rs16 billion.
As the proceedings commenced today, the judge asked about the absence of PM Shehbaz and his son Hamza, to which their counsel responded that the premier is about to reach court, while Hamza is unable to appear before the court owing to some health-related issues.
“He could have come to court while sitting in the car”, the judge remarked. After which the counsel produced Hamza’s medical certificate seeking exemption from personal appearance before the court and requesting the application's approval. The premier arrived shortly after.
The counsel Amjad Pervez implored the court that no one had recorded any statement against PM Shehbaz and further argued that there was no mention regarding the accounts of Rs2 billion and Rs800 million in the challan submitted before the court.
He implored the court that during Imran Khan’s tenure, his advisors and right-hand men had been guiding the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) over how to trap the Sharif family, following which the judge asked about the role of Mushtaq Cheeni in the affair.
The counsel informed the court that Mushtaq was an employee of the company and he looked after all the affairs. Mushtaq had been forced to give a statement against Shehbaz.
He also implored the court that Suleman Shehbaz is independent of his business.
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"Does Suleman Shehbaz not have business ties with his father Shehbaz Sharif and brother Hamza Shehbaz Sharif," the judge asked.
He argued that the politicians had influenced the FIR and sections were inserted, content for which says all accounts had been opened merely for transactions of Suleman Shehbaz Sharif.
He further argued that those employees who had been working on lower wages had not been told that these accounts had been opened under Shehbaz's directions.
PM seeks permission to speak
As PM Shehbaz took the rostrum, he sought permission to leave the court, as he had some engagements in Islamabad he needed to take care of.
However, he told the court that when he was serving as chief minister of Punjab, he took tough decisions as a result of which his family bore a huge loss.
He said every dollar is precious for Pakistan, adding that fuel prices are increasing and the country is facing significant problems owing to the flood.
He was then granted permission to exit the courtroom. Meanwhile, the court fixed October 8 for further arguments on the acquittal pleas.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) registered a case against Shehbaz Sharif and his sons Hamza Shehbaz and Suleman Shehbaz in November 2020 under sections 419, 420, 468, 471, 34 and 109 of the Prevention of Corruption Act and r/w 3/4 of Anti Money Laundering Act.
It is pertinent to mention that the FIA in December 2021 had submitted the challan against Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shehbaz over their alleged involvement in the Rs16 billion money laundering case.
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