Court indicts Shehbaz, Hamza in sugar mills case


–Former Punjab CM, son plead innocence in case relating to construction of a drain for personal mill


LAHORE: An accountability court on Tuesday indicted former Punjab chief minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shehbaz in Ramzan Sugar Mills case pertaining to the construction of a drain using public money, causing Rs200 million loss to the national exchequer.

At the outset of the hearing, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) special counsel Waris Ali Janjua gave his arguments regarding the indictment of the duo, seeking their indictment.

When Accountability Judge Najamul Hassan asked the NAB prosecutor what exactly the sugar mills reference is, Janjua replied that public funds were used for a drain for the mills, of which Hamza is a director. The funds, about Rs200 million, had been released by then Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif.

As Shehbaz began to tell the court that NAB had built a faulty case, the judge told him he could speak when it is his turn.

Paying no heed to the judge, Shehbaz continued. He said, “God knows, in 10 years, I have saved the country billions of rupees. I had nothing to do with this nullah [drain], no money was wrongfully used.”

Shehbaz and Hamza then pleaded not guilty to the corruption charges.

On Feb 18, NAB had filed a reference against Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza in connection with the Ramzan Sugar Mills case, nominating them as primary accused in the case.

NAB had taken Ramzan Sugar Mills Manager Muhammad Mushtaq into custody on Monday after he tried to flee the country. As per NAB prosecutor, the accused transacted Rs500 million into Suleman Shehbaz’s account.

While Shehbaz is out on bail in Ashiana Housing Scheme case, his son Hamza has been locking horns with NAB in multiple cases against him.

On Saturday, 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.

It was the second day in a row that the NAB had approached Hamza’s residence for his arrest. The stalemate ended once the LHC restrained the bureau from arresting the MPA and granted him protective bail until April 8.