ISLAMABAD  - The Accountability Court (AC)-1 Islamabad on Wednesday granted permanent exemption from appearance to former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf before it in the Rental Power Project (RPPs) Case.

Rajas' advocate Farooq H. Naek appeared before the AC-1 Islamabad of judge Muhammad Bashir for the case hearing. During the hearing, the court completed its cross-examination of government witness Yousuf Joya. Farooq Naek on behalf of his client said that due to security concerns, the former premier could not appear before the court and requested that he be granted permanent exemption from appearance in the court. The court subsequently accepted the plea and adjourned the case for next hearing on March 7. Speaking to media representatives after the hearing, Naek said although the court has granted permanent exemption, the former prime minister would appear before it whenever is required.

Raja, a PPP leader who served as premier between June 22, 2012 and March 25, 2013, was accused of receiving kickbacks and commissions from RPPs for awarding contracts for setting up their projects in 2008 as minister for water and power to overcome the electricity crisis in the country.

He was subsequently indicted in the case, along with six others, by the court on January 17 this year and on February 4 the court had recorded the statements of four prosecution witnesses, including the Wapda technical director.