The counsel for the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Saturday told a special court that the agency wanted to arrest Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz in a Rs16 billion money laundering case.
The counsel’s confirmation was in response to presiding judge of Special Court (Central-I) Ijaz Hassan Awan’s query on whether the FIA wanted to arrest the father-son duo in the case against them and their family.
The court also reissued the arrest warrants for suspects Suleman Shehbaz, Tahir Naqvi and Malik Maqsood in the case.
Both PM Shehbaz and Hamza appeared before the court. Advocate Amjad Pervez, who was representing Shehbaz and Hamza, started his arguments for the confirmation of his clients’ bail. He argued that the FIA could not find anything against his clients despite investigating the matter for 18 months. He argued that Mushtaq Cheeniwala was mentioned in the investigation but he was made neither a witness nor a suspect.
Pervez contended that Shehbaz and Hamza were in jail when the FIA included them in the investigation, pointing out that they [the opposition leaders] were pushed against the wall during the tenure of the previous government.
He said Shehbaz and Hamza continued to appear before the court and it was upon the prosecution to show any evidence of “mala fide intention” on part of his clients. He said a challan had been submitted in the case and the things were in documentary form. “Both Shehbaz and Hamza had been on bail for a year,” said Pervez, pointing out that there was no objection to their appearance before the court as the courts confirmed bail on the grounds.
He contended that the Supreme Court had already held that proving “mala fide intention” in the bail matter was not necessary and it was a fact that his clients never took advantage of being on bail.
“FIA’s investigation has been completed and now at this stage, arrest cannot be made,” said Pervez.
FIA’s counsel, however, opposed his arguments, saying that further investigation was needed in the case. He said that the “suspects had not been included in the investigation”. He did not elaborate whether he was referring to only Shehbaz or Hamza here. At this, the judge remarked whether the agency wanted to arrest both father and son to which the FIA prosecutor replied in affirmative.
Later, the court adjourned the hearing after extending Shehbaz and Hamza’s interim bail till June 11.
Separately, a district court in Lahore on Saturday directed police to register a first information report against PM Shehbaz, CM Hamza, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, some police high-ups and 600 cops for allegedly torturing PTI workers during the party’s long march.
The court was hearing a petition field by advocate Afzal Azeem.
Meanwhile, a local court on Saturday indicted Captain (r) Muhammad Safdar in a hate speech case. Safdar pleaded not guilty and contended that he would contest the charges. The court summoned prosecution witnesses for recording their statements and adjourned the case till June 10.