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LHC extended interim bail to Hamza Shahbaz till May 22

09 May, 2019

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The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday extended the interim bail granted to Opposition Leader in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz until May 22. The court approved a petition of Hamza seeking bail in assets beyond income, Ramzan Sugar Mills and Saaf Pani accountability cases against him. The bench ordered the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to submit the reasons for the arrest of Hamza Shahbaz.

NAB officials informed the bench that some documents had been given on the request of Hamza Shahbaz, adding that all papers could not be handed over under the law.

The documents regarding the financial monitoring unit had also not being provided, the lawyer for Hamza said. Hamza Shahbaz along with his lawyers appeared before the court amid tight security arrangements. In an earlier hearing, the court ordered the NAB prosecutor to produce documents in the cases. The bench asked the NAB prosecutor to inform the court regarding availability of documents in the references. Defence counsel Salman Butt informed the LHC judge that the documents that were considered as the part of the reference were not attached in assets beyond income case. He added that the case could not be proceeded with, as the documents were incomplete.

The NAB prosecutor argued that the anti-corruption watchdog would have to investigate into offshore companies and foreign transactions of Hamza Shahbaz. The investigators were tracing out persons and other sources used to transact money, the official said.

The court had directed the authorities to inform Hamza Shahbaz 10 days prior to his arrest, while the statement was still due to be recorded regarding the documents.

Butt said the petitioner was not informed about the reasons behind his arrest in the assets case, and related documents should be provided to him which were used to initiate an inquiry against his client. “How can we challenge the case in a court if we are not being given documents? The material, which is being used against an accused, cannot be hidden from the person,” said Butt. He argued that if it was a case of money laundering, the NAB was not authorised to arrest his client without seeking permission from the magistrate, except for holding an inquiry. “Both regulations cannot be merged if the money laundering case has to be proceeded with in the sessions court,” he added. The NAB prosecutor said that complaints had emerged against Shehbaz Sharif, Hamza Shahbaz and Salman Shehbaz.

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