LAHORE - An accountability court (AC) on Wednesday indicted PML-N leader and former railways minister Khawaja Saad Rafique and his brother Khawaja Salman Rafique in Paragon City reference.

The reference was filed against the PML-N leaders by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). Both of them were produced before AC Special Judge Syed Jawadul Hassan on the expiry of their judicial remand.

During the court proceedings, the Khawaja brothers were provided with copies of the reference. But the defence counsel requested the court to give seven-day time for studying the documents and also opposed the indictment.

He argued that it was the job of the court to determine whether the suspects could be indicted in the case. He was of the view that no one could be convicted without being heard. The judge replied that he would not convict the accused without giving them the chance to defend themselves.

Afterwards, the court indicted Khawaja Saad Rafique and his brother Khawaja Salman Rafique, but they pleaded not guilty and said they would contest the charges leveled against them.

After the indictment, the court adjourned the hearing till September 13, and summoned witnesses for recording their statements.

Besides Khawaja brothers, other suspects nominated in the reference are Nadeem Zia, Umar Zia, and Farhan Ali. The reference states that the Khawaja brothers, through their “benamidars” and with the abetment of former MPA Qaiser Amin Butt and Nadeem Zia, had announced construction of a housing society in the name of Air Avenue.

The project was later renamed as Paragon City Private Ltd. As per the NAB’s account, the aforesaid society was illegal as it was not approved by the Lahore Development Authority (LDA).

The PML-N leaders Saad and Salman are also accused of receiving monetary benefits of Rs58 million and Rs39million, respectively from the society through proxy firms under the garb of consultancy services.

The PML-N leaders were arrested by the accountability watchdog on December 11, 2018.  The arrests were made after a Lahore High Court division bench had dismissed their petitions for post-arrest bail on June 18.