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LAHORE: A duty judge for a special court (offences in bank) on Monday granted pre-arrest bail to Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shehbaz till July 10 in money laundering and a sugar scam case.

The court also sought a report from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) before which both the petitioners were scheduled to appear in the cases on Tuesday (today).

On June 16, the FIA had issued call-up notices to Shehbaz and Hamza requiring them to appear on June 22 (today) before the investigation team.

Both the father and son appeared before an Additional District & Sessions Judge Syed Ali Abbas, who heard the bail petitions as duty judge due to unavailability of the special court’s judge.

Earlier, their counsel argued that the FIR registered by the FIA was a sequel of the ongoing campaign of the government to victimize the opposition.

The counsel pointed out that a reference on similar charges was already pending before an accountability court against them.

Therefore, he said, the case registered by the FIA on the same allegations of illegal assets and money laundering was illegal.

He argued that a person could not be arrested in a case of similar charges twice. The counsel asked the court to allow bail to the petitioners as they were ready to join the investigation.

The court after hearing their counsel at length granted the interim pre-arrest bail to both Shehbaz and Hamza.

Shehbaz also addressed the court and said his actions being former chief minister caused a financial loss to the sugar mills of his brother and sons. He protected the rights of the farmers by refusing subsidy to millers and fixing price of sugarcane at Rs 182 in Punjab despite a lower price fixed in Sindh province.

Shehbaz said his government had imposed a levy on the sugar mills for producing ethanol and the same was withdrawn by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government.

Shehbaz and his sons Hamza and Suleman were booked by the FIA in November 2020 under sections 419, 420, 468, 471, 34 and 109 (for financial fraud, impersonation and forgery) of the PPC and 5(2) and 5(3) ( for criminal misconduct) of Prevention of Corruption Act and r/w 3/4 of Anti Money Laundering Act. Suleman Shehbaz is absconding in the UK.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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