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ISLAMABAD: The Accountability Court on Thursday hearing Toshakhana case against former president Asif Ali Zardari, two former premiers, Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, Nawaz Sharif, and others sought arguments from defence and prosecution over the acquittal pleas filed by the accused under the National Accountability (second amendment) Ordinance, 2021.

Accountability Court-III judge, Syed Asghar Ali, while hearing the case, asked the NAB to file its written reply regarding the acquittal plea filed by the accused. On this, the NAB prosecutor, Irfan Bola, told the court that “the reply of the NAB is ready and will file it today.”

He further told the court that the reply of the NAB regarding fresh applications of the accused, Khawaja Anwer Majeed and Abdul Ghani Majeed would be filed before it, before 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, Arshad Tabraz’s counsel for accused Khawaja Anwer Majeed and Abdul Ghani Majeed filed acquittal applications of his client under recently-promulgated NAB ordinances. According to the reply filed by the NAB, the applications filed by the accused under the NAB ordinances was not maintainable; therefore, it should be rejected and start proceedings of the case.

On this, the judge observed that all defence counsels argue over the acquittal applications together as there is one question of law. The court adjourned hearing of the case till December 16.

The NAB had filed the Toshakhana reference against former president Zardari, two former prime ministers, Nawaz Sharif 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 from 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.

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, Cabinet Division, relaxing the procedure of Toshakhana, illegally.

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 no.9/8/2004 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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