A special court on Thursday set February 18 as the date to indict Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President and Opposition Leader in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif, his sons Hamza Shehbaz and Suleman Shehbaz, and others for their alleged role in laundering Rs16 billion in the sugar scam.
Judge Special Court Ijaz Hassan Awan passed the order, with directions to the relevant officials to present the file of the case to frame charges against the PML-N president, his sons and others in the case.
“Complete set of documents and statements as required under Section 265 Cr. P.C have been delivered to the accused and their signatures have been obtained on separate sheets containing details of said documents,” read a short order in the said case.
It further said, “Now the file to come up for framing of charge on 18.02.2022”.
Both Shehbaz and Hamza appeared before the court and strict security arrangements were made on the occasion. The other suspects in the case also ensured their presence in the courtroom.
As the proceedings commenced, the judge directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) officials to provide copies of the challans to Shehbaz, Hamza and other suspects. The FIA handed over the copies of the challan to them and obtained their signatures.
Strict security arrangements were made on the occasion and even the judge was stopped by the security officials when he was entering into the courtroom to conduct court proceedings.
“Where are the rest of the suspects?” the judge asked the lawyer of the accused as he resumed the proceedings. The lawyer said that the security officials had stopped them.
On it, the judge remarked, “I was also stopped by the security today on my way to court”.
The lawyer said that the journalists were also barred by the security from entering the premises of the court for coverage. The judge observed that no instructions were issued from the court’s side to stop journalists.
During the hearing today, the FIA requested the court to cancel pre-arrest bails given to the PML-N leaders. The agency’s counsel said he was ready to furnish arguments for cancellation of the bails.
Shehbaz pleaded with the court that a long date should be given to him as the National Assembly’s session was expected. However, the court fixed February 18 as the next date of hearing for indictment of the suspects.
The Special Court (offences in banks) was hearing the case that was transferred to the Special Court (Central-I) after the FIA raised the question of the court’s jurisdiction on January 14.
The FIA had in December 2021 submitted the challan against Shehbaz and Hamza to a special court for their alleged involvement in laundering an amount of Rs16bn in the sugar scam case.
FIA had submitted an investigation report before the court and held that they found 28 benami accounts of the Shehbaz family through which a hefty Rs16.3bn was laundered between 2008-18. The FIA claimed that it investigated the money trail of 17,000 credit transactions.
The agency also claimed that the amount was kept in hidden accounts and was handed over to Shehbaz in personal capacity.
The FIA said that the amount was transferred abroad via hundi/hawala networks after receiving from the accounts of low-wage employees of the Sharif family, pointing out that the amount had nothing to do with the sugar business owned by the Sharif family. It claimed that the amount ultimately reached the Sharif family members for their use.
The agency said the low-paid employees were found guilty of facilitating Sharifs in money laundering.