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ISLAMABAD: The Accountability Court, on Thursday, while hearing Toshakhana case against former president Asif Ali Zardari, two former premiers Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani and Nawaz Sharif, and others directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to submit its reply on Zardari’s acquittal application on the next hearing to be held on October 14.

Former president Zardari during the last hearing had filed an application before the court seeking acquittal in Toshakhana reference.

The NAB had filed the Toshakhana reference against former president Zardari, two former prime ministers Nawaz and Gilani, and others for allegedly acquiring three vehicles including BMW 750 Li model 2004, Toyota Lexus Jeep 472 model 2007 gifted by the Embassy of United Arab Emirates (UAE), and BMW 760 Li model 2008 gifted by Embassy of 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.

Accountability Court-III judge, Syed Asghar Ali, while hearing the case asked the NAB to file its comments on the acquittal application during the next hearing.

At the start of the hearing, Zardari and other accused’s counsel filed separate applications seeking one-day exemption of their client before the court, which the court approved.

During the hearing, the court recorded statement of prosecution witness Junaid Sheikh Deputy Commissioner (DC) Inland Revenue.

The witness produced various documents related to the case.

The court adjourned the case till 14 October 2021.

According to the bureau, the evidence collected during the course of inquiry and investigation has established that the accused, Gilani in order to extend illegal benefit to the accused, Zardari and Sharif, illegally allowed the retention of vehicles gifted to them by various foreign states and dignitaries, which at that time belonged to the Central Pool of Cars, the Cabinet Division, relaxing the procedure of Toshakhana, illegally.

The accused, Zardari and Sharif, had retained the said vehicles against the nominal payment of 15 percent of total value of the vehicles.

The accused, Zardari, made the payment for vehicles, and duties of these vehicles through the accused, Khawaja Anwer Majid and Khawaja Abdul Ghani Majid, from “fake” bank accounts.

The accused, Gilani, former prime minister and minister-in-charge Cabinet Division from 2008-2012 had “illegally” relaxed the procedure for the acceptance and disposal of gifts, issued by the government through the Cabinet Division OM no9/8/2004 TK dated June 25, 2007.

According to these rules, “gifted vehicles shall not be allowed to be purchased by the recipients and be given to the Central Pool of Cars of the Cabinet Division.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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