The case was adjourned until April 16, and both Zardari and Talpur left the premises.
The fake bank accounts case took a fresh twist as two of the accused expressed their willingness before an accountability court in Islamabad to become approvers against former President Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur on Monday.
The case was earlier being heard in a banking court in Karachi but had been shifted to the accountability court in Islamabad upon an appeal by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Zardari, Talpur and others accused nominated in the case appeared before the court amid tight security, with at least 1,650 security officials deployed within and around the judicial complex to avoid any untoward situation during the hearing.
As the hearing began, Kiran Aman and Noreen Sultan who are among the 30 accused nominated in the case by NAB told the court that they are ready to testify as witnesses and had filed an application in this regard with the NAB chairman, but the NAB had named them as accused instead.
The judge asked NAB to verify, using the case record, if Aman and Sultan had informed the court of their willingness to testify in the case against the other accused persons.
Both the accused filed applications before the court saying they could not afford to engage a defence lawyer.
Zardari, while talking to reporters as he sat in court, said he was seated in the same chair former premier Nawaz Sharif used to occupy during his trial in different references. Zardari described Sharif as “a noble man” and himself as “a humble one.”
He added that the “establishment” should be asked about the trial of former military dictator Pervez Musharraf.
The court marked the attendance of the accused persons and ordered the distribution of copies of the reference among their lawyers. The case was adjourned until April 16, and both Zardari and Talpur left the premises.
Meanwhile, police arrested two female workers of the PPP from outside the federal judicial complex as they were trying to enter into the accountability court to witness the appearance of their leaders.
Meanwhile, the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday restrained the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) from arresting leader of the opposition in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz for cases pertaining to ownership of assets beyond means and money laundering.
The LHC ordered him to pay surety bonds worth Rs10 million and issued a notice to NAB seeking its reply in the matter.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) workers at the LHC armed with banners chanted slogans in Hamza’s favour until they were warned by the security staff that they would be expelled from the premises if they did not show respect for the court. They continued a silent show of support for their leader thereafter.
Justice Malik Shahzad Khan, taking note of the large gathering, remarked: “So many people have been called here. What is all this?” Hamza replied that he had not called his workers.
“What will happen in the future if such sloganeering has already begun?” Justice Mirza Waqas Rauf asked.
The judges asked NAB’s lawyer which case the NAB wanted to arrest the PML-N leader in, to which he replied that there are a total of three cases against him and they wanted to apprehend him in the case pertaining to assets beyond means.
A NAB team seeking Hamza’s arrest was embroiled in a nearly five-hour-long standoff with his private security and supporters at his family’s Model Town residence on Saturday. It was the second day in a row that the NAB had approached his residence for his arrest. The stalemate ended once the LHC had restrained the NAB from arresting Hamza and granted him protective bail until April 8.
Hamza was represented by Advocate Amjad Pervez before the two-judge bench. A team of the NAB legal experts are also in the courtroom.
Hamza’s legal team, which also includes the LHC Bar Association President Hafeezur Rehman Chaudhry, had filed a civil miscellaneous application on Saturday while the NAB team paid a visit to his residence.
On the other hand, the NAB Lahore team also prepared a charge sheet against Hamza as a special prosecutor and an eight-member legal team appeared before the court.
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