Tuesday May 30, 2023

Ramzan sugar mills case

March 05, 2019

Shahbaz, Hamza likely to be indicted on 16th


LAHORE: An accountability court is likely to indict opposition leader in National Assembly, Shahbaz Sharif and his son, Hamza Shahbaz, in Ramzan Sugar Mills case on March 16.

Both the PML-N leaders appeared before Accountability Court Judge Syed Najamul Hassan in connection with the case hearing on Monday. Shahbaz’s counsel submitted that senior counsel Amjad Pervaiz could not appear in the court due to his engagements in the Lahore High Court. He asked the court to delay the distribution of reference copies among the accused. However, the court declined the request and handed over the copies to Shahbaz Sharif and Hamza Shahbaz, and adjourned the hearing till March 16. The court also directed both leaders to appear on the next date of hearing for indictment.

On Feb 18, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) filed a reference against Shahbaz Sharif and Hamza Shahbaz, alleging the former chief minister Punjab misused his authority and got constructed a 10-km sludge carrier in district Chiniot to facilitate Ramzan Sugar Mills, owned by his sons. The bureau alleged that the step inflicted a loss of Rs213 million to the national exchequer. A Lahore High Court division bench had already granted bail to Shahbaz Sharif in Ashiana-e-Iqbal and Ramzan Sugar Mills cases on Feb 14.

Meanwhile, the court also adjourned the hearing of Ashiana-e-Iqbal Housing case till March 16 after recording statements of two prosecution witnesses. The court recorded statements of Israr Saeed and Arif Majeed Butt during the proceedings. Shahbaz Sharif was present during the proceedings, but the court allowed him to leave after it was told that he was not feeling well.

Earlier, the court expressed serious annoyance after key suspects Fawad Hassan Fawad and Ahad Cheema were not produced on time and issued a notice to the officials to ascertain the reasons. The court also noted the absence of Shahbaz Sharif, who also failed to reach on time, and warned that arrest warrants would be issued if he failed to appear in the court. However, later on, all the accused reached the court. On Feb 18, the court had indicted the accused after the Bureau filed a supplementary reference against PML-N President and Chairman Public Accounts Committee Shahbaz Sharif and 12 others in the Ashiana-e-Iqbal Housing case. The former principal secretary Fawad Hassan Fawad, Nadeem Zia, Kamran Kiyani, Munir Zia, Khalid Hussain, Shahid Chaudhry and others are nominated accused in the reference. The NAB had accused Shahbaz Sharif of misusing his authority, which resulted in failure of the project, depriving 61,000 applicants of their housing units.

The NAB alleged that Shahbaz Sharif, in connivance with former DG LDA Ahad Cheema, awarded the contract to a proxy firm. The NAB had already filed a reference against Cheema and five others over their alleged role in Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing scam. Moreover, the court conducted hearing of illegal assets case against Fawad Hassan Fawad and adjourned the case till March 19 with the direction to NAB for filing a reference by the next hearing.