Court rejects Zardari’s dismissal plea, indictment set for Aug 10

ISLAMABAD : An Islamabad accountability court on Friday has directed to indict Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman and former president Asif Ali Zardari in Park Lane reference on August 10 (Monday). While announcing the reserved verdict, the court has rejected Zardari’s request for withdrawal of plea seeking acquittal and dismissal of the case. Former president’s petition challenging jurisdiction of the court to hear this matter has also been rejected. The PPP co-chairperson first filed two petitions against the case and then a third petition to withdraw the first. All three have been rejected. Accountability Judge Azam Khan announced the court’s decision and also decided to indict Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur in the next hearing of the case on August 10. Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur and other accused face charges of corruption through fake bank accounts and embezzlement in the financial facility for Park Lane Private Limited and Parthenon (Pvt) Limited. NAB has been directed to make the arrangements to indict the former president via video link. The bureau has said that after Zardari is indicted, the prosecution will bring forward 61 witnesses against him, including former National Bank of Pakistan presidents Syed Ali Raza and Qamar Hussain. The bureau has accused Zardari of misusing his authority as the country’s former president and approving loans for companies allegedly owned by him. He is accused of causing a Rs4 billion loss to the national exchequer. Zardari, however, had challenged NAB’s jurisdiction in the case. He said that the case falls within the ambit of the banking ordinance and must be heard by banking courts. The Park Lane Estate company is a Karachi-based real estate firm. NAB had initiated an inquiry against Zardari and his son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on charges of illegally transferring forest land to the firm in collusion with some government officials. Bilawal was given a clean chit in the case on June 12, while Zardari is currently under arrest in this case along with a money laundering case. Other people named in the reference include Omni Group’s Anwar Majeed, his son Abdul Ghani Majeed, former Pakistan Stock Exchange chairperson Hussain Lawai, Iqbal Noori, Iqbal Memon, Younis Kudvawi, Mohammad Noori, Sher Ali Uzair Naeem and Muhammad Saleem. Three companies, Tracom, Park Lane and Parthenon, have been named too. This is the fifth reference that NAB has filed in the fake accounts case.

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