LAHORE - An accountability court on Wednesday sent Opposition Leader in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz on judicial remand to jail till September 18 after turning down the National Accountability Bureau (NAB)’s request for extension in his physical remand in a money laundering case.

Hamza Shehbaz was produced before Accountability Court Judge Ameer Muhammad Khan who conducted the proceedings on expiry of his physical remand yesterday.

According to law, the NAB can get physical remand of an accused up to 90 days while the PML-N leader has been on physical remand in NAB custody for consecutive 84 days. During proceedings, the NAB investigation officer submitted that investigations were in progress in the case and requested for extension of his physical remand for another five days.

The official submitted that the bureau had received record from Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, Federal Board of Revenue and other departments, whereas the experts were preparing a report in light of the record.

Court extends physical remand of Maryam for 14 days

He pleaded that Hamza Shehbaz was not cooperating in investigations. He told the court that the PML-N leader got appointed two persons in chief minister’s office who were involved in money laundering for him.

He further informed the court that the bureau had summoned Shehbaz Sharif over the said appointments but he refused to appear due to backache.

On the other side, counsel, representing Hamza, opposed the NAB official’s request, saying that his client had already served 84 days on physical remand in the reference. He submitted that the two said persons did not have any relation with the case.

After hearing the arguments from both sides, the court turned down NAB’s request for extension in his physical remand and sent him to jail on judicial remand till Sept 18.

In the case, Hamza Shehbaz is accused of acquiring assets beyond his known sources of income, besides committing massive money laundering in name of foreign remittances.

Article 24(c) of the National Accountability Ordinance says that a suspect “…shall, having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case, be liable to be detained in the custody of NAB for the purpose of inquiry and investigation for a period not exceeding 90 days [and the court may remand an accused person to custody not exceeding 15 days at a time.”

In Ramzan Sugar Mills case, the court extended judicial remand of Hamza Shehbaz till September 18 and granted one-time exemption from appearance to his father and PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif.

The court also exempted Shehbaz Sharif from personal appearance in Ashiana-e-Iqbal Housing scam. A counsel on behalf of Shehbaz Sharif had filed an application seeking exemption from appearance in the cases.

The other accused including Ahad Cheema, Fawad Hassan Fawad and others were also produced in connection with Ashiana-e-Iqbal case, whereas the court adjourned further hearing till September 18.

On the occasion, strict security arrangements were made whereas a large number of PML-N workers were also present to express solidarity with Hamza Shehbaz.

Meanwhile, an accountability court Wednesday extended for 14 days the physical remand of PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz and her cousin Yousaf Abbas in Chaudhry Sugar Mills case.

They were produced before AC Special Judge Ameer Muhammad Khan after expiry of their remand term. During the court proceedings, the NAB prosecutor sought extension in their physical remand for another 15 days, arguing that extension was required to probe the transfer of shares of the sugar mills. He complained to the court that Maryam was not cooperating with the bureau in this respect.

He said that Chaudhry Sugar Mills was established in 1992 in which Maryam was a major shareholder during 2008-10. He further said that Nawaz Sharif suddenly became a major shareholder in the mills in 2015-16 when he was prime minister of the country.

He told the court that Maryam, in her statement, had said that the aforesaid firm’s Secretary Ajmal Sabtain and Chief Finance Officer (CFO) Jawad Ahmad had record of the transfer of shares. However, he added, those officers had told the bureau that they had no record.

In response to the NAB’s request, the defence counsel said that the accountability watchdog had taken the same plea for obtaining the physical remand of the suspects earlier. He reminded the court that a joint investigation team, formed on the orders of the Supreme Court (SC), had also investigated the CSM case.

He further said that the shares were transferred by Maryam’s grandfather Mian Sharif during his life time. He submitted that despite various investigations since 1994, nothing had been proved against his client and that she had nothing to do with money laundering.

After hearing the arguments, the court extended the physical remand of Maryam Nawaz and Yousaf Abbas for another 14 days. The court directed the officials to produce them on September 18 again after expiry of their remand term.

Strict security measures were taken on the occasion. A large contingent of police remained deployed inside and outside the court premises.