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ISLAMABAD: The Accountability Court hearing Toshakhana case against former president Asif Ali Zardari, two former prime ministers Yousaf Raza Gillani and Nawaz Sharif, and others on Thursday granted additional time to the defence counsel for filing a fresh acquittal application under the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Act, 2022.

The judge of Accountability Court-III, Syed Ali Asghar, while hearing the case adjourned it till October 3 after the defence counsel requested for grant of extra time for filing another acquittal application under the amended NAB law.

At the start of the hearing, an associate of Mr Zardari and counsel of other accused persons filed separate applications seeking a one-day exemption of their clients before the court, which the court approved.

The National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) prosecutor, Waseem Javed, and the defence counsel appeared before the court.

During the hearing, the defence lawyer, Arshad Tabraiz, told the court that he wanted to file another acquittal application under the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Act, 2022; therefore, he be granted extra time. The court approved his request and adjourned the hearing till October 3.

The NAB had filed the Toshakhana reference against former president Zardari, two former prime ministers, Nawaz Sharif and Gillani and others for allegedly acquiring three vehicles including a BMW 750 Li model 2004, Toyota Lexus Jeep 472 model 2007 gifted by the embassy of 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.

According to the bureau, the evidence collected during the course of inquiry and investigation has established that the accused, Gillani in order to extend the 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.

The accused, Zardari and Sharif, had retained the said vehicles against the nominal payment of 15 percent of the 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, Gillani, the former prime minister and minister-in-charge of 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, 2022

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