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Money laundering case: Shehbaz’s indictment due today

Fawad Chaudhary claims prosecution directed not to appear before court, have indictment deferred

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, who is the candidate of the joint opposition for prime minister, is due to appear before Special Court Central I today (Monday) for indictment in the Rs25 billion money laundering case.

Special Court Judge Ijaz Hassan Awan is hearing the case and had previously strictly ordered Shehbaz Sharif to ensure his presence before the court for his indictment in the case. The date for indictment comes at a time when the National Assembly is all set to elect the new prime minister after Imran Khan lost the vote of no-confidence on Saturday night, and PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif filed 13 forms while PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi submitted four forms with the NA Secretariat.

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The PTI raised objection to Shehbaz Sharif’s nomination papers and subsequently a heated exchange of words took place between the PTI’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi and PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal. Dr. Babar Awan, a PTI leader, said the PML-N president had cases pending against him and called for his papers to be rejected. The PTI’s objections were eventually rejected and the nomination papers for both the candidates were accepted. But it is likely that Shehbaz Sharif, through his counsel, will plead the court to adjourn the case, and thus the indictment may be deferred for some other day.

On the issue, PTI leader and former Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhary claimed: “Prosecution head has clearly been directed not to appear before the court and that the indictment should be deferred.” The PML-N leader has successfully managed to have his indictment lingering. It has been pending for the last couple of months.

On April 4, the Special Court Central rejected the plea of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) seeking the cancellation of interim bail of Shehbaz Sharif in the money laundering case. The court also rejected the plea of Shehbaz Sharif’s counsel challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the case. Several times, after the submission of the challan, FIA officials tried to get relief from the court and tried to convince the court to cancel the bail of Shehbaz Sharif, but every time they failed.

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The FIA had said that Shehbaz Sharif was misusing exemption from personal appearance in the court as well as the interim bail granted to him earlier in the case. The FIA officials had said that they were not being heard. The legal team of the accused successfully countered the state agency, and thus, the indictment was put off from one date to another.



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