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ISLAMABAD: Former president and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, on Thursday, filed an application before Accountability Court seeking acquittal in Toshakhana reference against him and two former prime ministers. Zardari's counsel Farooq H Naek filed the acquittal application before Accountability Court-III Judge, Syed Asghar Ali under Section 265-K of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

The court sought a reply from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) regarding Zardari's acquittal application. The NAB had filed the Toshakhana reference against former president Zardari, two former prime ministers, Nawaz Sharif and Gillani, and others for allegedly acquiring of three vehicles including BMW 750 Li model 2004, Toyota Lexus Jeep 472 model 2007 gifted by the embassy of from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and BMW 760 LI model 2008 gifted by embassy Libya and gifts from Toshakhana - an official treasury where gifts from foreign dignitaries or heads of state are deposited- in violation of rules and regulations.

Zardari counsel and lawyers of other accused file separate applications before the court seeking exemption of their clients from personal appearance before it, which the court approved. According to the application, Zardari is innocent and has been falsely implicated in the reference on account of political victimisation.

"The applicant who has been made a victim of circumstances languished in jail for more than eight years without any fault on his part in innumerable cases ultimately resulting in acquittal in all the cases," the application further stated.

"It is evident from the record produced by the prosecution that its case, taken at its highest, would be insufficient for conviction of the applicant," the application added.

"The prosecution has failed to produce any tangible incriminating evidence against the applicant and hence it is evident that there is no probability of the applicant being convicted in the instant reference."

The application also said that the allegations made against the PPP co-chairperson are false and there is "no ground for proceeding with his trial".

Counsel Naek further stated that the prosecution has failed to bring on record any evidence to show or substantiate that Zardari committed the offence of corruption or was involved in corrupt practices as defined in Section 9 of the National Accountability Ordinance 1999 (NAO 1999) and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2010.

"That a close reading of the charge along with the evidence that has come on record makes it absolutely clear that no case whatsoever has been spelt out against the applicant and indeed the applicant has not committed any offence as defined in NAO 1999 and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2010," the application prayed.

"The presumption of innocence available to the applicant under the law stands fully reinforced and become irrefutable. Hence the applicant is innocent and has been falsely implicated in this case," it said, adding that the prosecution witness has nowhere implicated the applicant so as to bring the case of the prosecution within the ambit of the offence the applicant has been charged with this court.

The application says that the documentary evidence that has come on record is totally inadmissible, fabricated, and forged, and in any case do not implicate the applicant in the alleged commission of offence he is charged with.

Zardari also filed another application through his counsel before the same court seeking postponement of proceedings of Toshakhana case till the judgement over the acquittal application filed by him.

The application says that it would be violation of the law, if the hearing of Toshahana case continued. The court should first decide the acquittal application filed by the accused, Zardari, it says.

The judge asked that is there is any provision in the law regarding this application. The court dismissed the application with respect to postponement of hearing of the case. The court adjourned hearing of the case till September 30.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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