LAHORE                    -            The Lahore Accountability Court on Friday exempted former PM Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shehbaz Sharif from personal appearance in connection with different corruption references. However, the court extended judicial remand of Opposition Leader in Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz till January 31. The court during Friday’s hearing conducted proceedings on different references related to money laundering, assets beyond means, Ashiyana Iqbal housing project, and Chaudhry Sugar Mills cases filed by the NAB against the Sharif family.

Accountability Court Judge Ameer Muhammad Khan conducted the case proceedings. Yousaf Abbas, nephew of Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, was produced before the court. Nawaz’s counsel submitted medical reports and apprised that his client was still undergoing treatment abroad. The lawyer pleaded with the court to exempt Nawaz from personal appearance, stating that the medical reports had also been submitted in the Lahore High Court.

In response to a court query, the National Accountability Bureau prosecutor submitted that the reference was at final stages and would soon be filed. Subsequently, the court adjourned the proceedings till Jan 31 and extended judicial remand of accused Yousaf Abbas. The court also exempted from personal appearance Nawaz Sharif till Jan 31 and also sought his further medical reports on the next date of hearing.

Salman Sarwar, on behalf of Maryam Nawaz, was also present during the proceedings. Initially, the court had exempted Nawaz Sharif from personal appearance for a period of four weeks while Maryam Nawaz was also exempted till the filing of reference in the case. The Sharif family had been accused of using the CSM for money laundering and illegal transfer of its shares.

Also, an Accountability Court granted exemption from personal appearance to PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif till further orders in Ramzan Sugar Mills and Ashiyana-e-Iqbal cases. However, the court clarified that the trial would continue in the absence of Shehbaz Sharif.

Accountability Court Judge Amjad Nazir Chaudhry announced the verdict on Shehbaz Sharif’s application, which had been reserved on the last hearing after conclusion of arguments by the parties.

Shehbaz Sharif through the application had sought permanent exemption from personal appearance in Ramzan Sugar Mills and Ashiyana-e-Iqbal cases. The court was apprised that Shehbaz Sharif had proceeded abroad for his own and his brother’s medical treatment. Subsequently, the court granted permanent exemption to Shehbaz Sharif and adjourned the hearing. 

The Lahore NAB had arrested Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif in the Ashiyana-e-Iqbal Housing Scheme scam for awarding illegal contracts to his favorite firm in October, 2018. However, in February 2019, he was granted bail by the Lahore High Court. The anti-corruption watchdog had claimed that the company did not conduct any kind of survey but nevertheless was provided a lucrative sum of Rs 1.5 billion.

During Friday’s hearing, the jail staff also produced PML-N leader Hamza Shehbaz before the court on expiry of his judicial remand in Ramzan Sugar Mills case besides Fawad Hassan Fawad, Ahad Khan Cheema and other accused in Ashiyana Iqbal case. The court adjourned hearing of both cases till Jan 31 and extended judicial remand of all the accused for another 14 days.

Meanwhile, another Accountability Court extended judicial remand of Hamza Shehbaz till Jan 31 in assets beyond means and money laundering case. Accountability Court Judge Ameer Muhammad Khan conducted the case proceedings and Hamza Shehbaz was also produced before the court.

The National Accountability Bureau prosecutor produced a report about filing of the reference during the proceedings. The court directed investigation officer to file the reference against Hamza as soon as possible. On June 11, the accountability watchdog had arrested Hamza in the same case after Lahore High Court turned down his applications for extension in interim bail.

The police intensified security at the court premises with massive deployment on early Friday as some members of the Sharif Family were produced before the court.