ISLAMABAD: An accountability court on Wednesday indicted former president Asif Ali Zardari and ex-prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani in the Toshakhana reference, while declaring former premier Nawaz Sharif a proclaimed offender over his continued absence from the proceedings.
In March, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had filed a reference with the Accountability Court against the accused on the alleged violation of the rules of the Toshakhana (state gift repository) which it argued had caused a heavy loss to the national exchequer.
The reference also names Omni Group CEO Khawaja Anwar Majeed and his son, Khawaja Abdul Ghani Majeed. The NAB alleged that Yusuf Raza Gilani, in order to extend illegal benefit to the accused, allowed them to keep luxury vehicles gifted to them by foreign dignitaries by relaxing the procedures governing their use.
The anti-graft body stated in the reference that “through dishonest and illegal means for their personal benefit and interest” the accused (Nawaz and Zardari) retained the vehicles in question “against a nominal payment of 15 percent of their total value”.
The former president has been accused of making the payments through the Omni Group owners for which, according to NAB, he has not provided any justification. When the proceedings resumed Wednesday, the court indicted all the four accused present in the court, who pleaded not guilty.
“I have never worked against the rules. I approved the summary which was prepared as per the law,” Yusuf Raza Gilani told the court. He added that if the summary was illegal, then it would not have been moved.
The court then responded that it was not talking about the merits of the case right now. “You should argue this during the trial,” Accountability Court Judge Asghar Ali told Gilani.
The court also declared Nawaz Sharif a proclaimed offender and issued a perpetual warrant for his arrest over his continued no-show. The court also asked the authorities to submit details of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader’s properties within seven days. The court, after issuing the warrants, adjourned the hearing till September 24.
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