–Accountability judge asks NAB why it didn’t seek court’s permission before arresting former president
–Zardari requests court to allow him to keep one personal caretaker and provision of all medical facilities
–Says getting arrested on corruption charges is ‘beauty of politics’ in third world countries
ISLAMABAD: An accountability court on Tuesday granted the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) 11-day physical remand of former president and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari, a day after his arrest.
Accountability Judge Arshad Malik announced the decision and ordered that Zardari be presented before the court again on June 21.
Earlier, the former president was brought to the court by a team of the accountability bureau.
During the court proceedings, NAB requested 14-day physical remand of the PPP co-chairman, which was opposed by Zardari’s counsel Farooq H. Naek.
The accountability bureau provided evidence for Zardari’s arrest.
According to NAB, the former president made a plan to legitimise illegal income through transactions in fake accounts and had used frontmen and benamidars for money laundering. The bureau said that there were eight solid grounds for Zardari’s arrest.
NAB prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi said that prima facie, Zardari was involved in mega money laundering through fake accounts. He said that the former president was a beneficiary of fake accounts and added that the Omni Group was used for fake accounts.
He said that the suspect had been arrested and the bureau required remand in order to conduct investigations.
“First tell us, on what basis has Zardari been arrested,” said Judge Malik, to which the NAB prosecutor responded that he would read out the basis for Zardari’s arrest.
Naek said that the Supreme Court had given NAB two months for investigations and the two-month respite had “long ended”.
He said that during the investigation, the NAB chairman had the authority to make an arrest. However, now a reference has been filed and the time had passed.
Naek said that arrests warrants and the grounds for Zardari’s arrest were not provided to them. “We are finding out the reasons for [his] arrest right now,” he said.
The former president also submitted a request for additional facilities in NAB lock-up. He asked for permission to keep one personal caretaker with him and for all medical facilities to be provided to him.
“I am a sugar patient and at night my sugar gets low,” Zardari told the court while requesting an attendant who could check his sugar [levels] at night.
The NAB prosecutor said that this was a matter regarding the former president’s life. He said that the bureau had no objection to this nor should the court.
“The attendant will not sit with me for 24-hours, when they are required they will be called,” Zardari said.
Zardari’s medical certificates were also presented in court. The accountability bureau informed the court that following the former president’s arrest, his medical examination was conducted. The NAB prosecutor said that Zardari was completely healthy and fit.
Prior to his arrival at the court, a three-member team of the Polyclinic conducted a medical examination of the former president. According to the NAB sources, Zardari was found to be fit for physical remand.
The report was presented to the accountability court judge in his chambers.
During the hearing, Judge Malik asked why NAB had not sought the court’s permission for Zardari’s arrest.
“[The] reference is ongoing in this court, so NAB should have asked for permission,” he said.
Zardari’s counsel responded, “The fact is that NAB did not even take this court into confidence.”
The NAB prosecutor said that the accountability bureau had not arrested Zardari themselves, adding that the high court had rejected his bail after which he was arrested.
In an informal talk with reporters inside the courtroom, Zardari called his arrest on corruption allegations as “beauty of politics” in third world countries.
He questioned, “what (his arrest) will make any difference, in his absence Bilawal will be present, if Bilawal is absent, Aseefa will be there.”
“My arrest is a pressure tactics. Anyone involved in politics, have to go to jail,” Zardari said, adding that Musharraf was not an elected representative, so he is not prepared to go to jail.
” I did question authority of the NAB chairman. As all (strings being pulled) by the government,” the PPP leader said.
“The selected prime minister doesn’t know anything. All is being orchestrated by the minister of interior,” former president claimed.
Zardari also condemned arrest of the leader of opposition in Punjab Assembly and PML-N leader Hamza Shehbaz, who was arrested by the accountability bureau under corruption charges earlier in the day.