–PML-N workers clash with police personnel outside accountability court, Marriyum Aurangzeb condemns police’s violence
LAHORE: An accountability court on Friday granted the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) physical remand of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz and her cousin Yousuf Abbas until August 21 in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case.
Accountability Judge Naeem Arshad heard NAB’s request for 15-day physical remand of the PML-N vice president and her cousin. NAB’s special prosecutors Hafiz Asadullah and Haris Qureshi presented arguments on behalf of the accountability watchdog while Advocate Amjad Pervez defended the PML-N leader and her cousin.
As the hearing went underway, Asadullah said that suspicious transactions had been carried out in Maryam’s bank accounts. He added that the corruption watchdog had summoned her twice but she failed to comply. He reiterated that Maryam was a shareholder of the mill while Abbas had been a shareholder as well as a director.
The NAB counsel said that Maryam did not provide satisfactory answers to their questions, adding that shares that she had purchased in 2008 were later transferred to her father, ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, in 2015.
The bureau’s investigation officer said initially Maryam owned shares worth little over Rs800,000 and, suddenly, in 2008, there were shares worth Rs0.41 billion in her name. “[Although] she mentioned a foreign investor [but] when asked who the foreign investor was, she refused to respond,” the official said.
The accountability bureau also presented a list of questions to which Maryam had not responded.
According to the NAB lawyer, Abbas’s account was used for money laundering. He added that after money came into his account, it was transferred to the Chaudhry Sugar Mills.
The accountability judge asked what had happened in the Panama Papers case to which the NAB lawyer responded that in the case, three references were to be submitted including one regarding Chaudhry Sugar Mills.
The judge asked why Maryam’s shares had not come up during the earlier case to which the NAB investigative officer said that it had been mentioned in the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report.
Maryam also met her cousin, Punjab Assembly Opposition Leader Hamza Shehbaz, inside the court premises, who was also present in relation to the Ramzan Sugar Mills case.
Prior to the court hearing, a scuffle broke out between party workers, who had gathered outside the building, and policemen as Maryam was escorted to the hearing.
The workers burnt tyres outside the judicial complex while chanting slogans against the government.
Earlier, police had said that no party workers or leaders would be allowed to come to the court premises. However, various party leaders including Mohammad Zubair and Uzma Bukhari arrived at the court.
Maryam’s son Junaid Safdar and husband Capt (r) Mohammad Safdar Awan also arrived at the court.
While speaking to media, Safdar said Maryam was going to hold a rally against India and her voice was once again being silenced.
PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb strongly condemned the violence against party workers. A resolution was also submitted in the Punjab Assembly against the violence towards assembly members and party workers.
A day earlier, NAB arrested Maryam Nawaz in a case pertaining to Chaudhry Sugar Mills after she skipped a NAB hearing to meet her incarcerated father in jail.
Maryam was supposed to appear before the accountability watchdog at 3pm on Thursday to answer a questionnaire based on six questions in the case. However, when she did not appear, anti-graft officials reached the prison and detained her on the directives of NAB Chairman Justice (r) Javed Iqbal.
According to a press release issued by NAB, “Maryam and her cousin Yousuf Abbas have been arrested in connection to the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case.” “As per the law, they will be presented before an accountability court in Lahore for remand tomorrow,” it added.
Maryam, a shareholder in the mills, is accused of involvement in suspicious transactions worth billions along with her father Nawaz Sharif, uncle Shehbaz Sharif and other members of the Sharif family. During her last appearance before NAB, she was grilled for at least 45 minutes and was handed over a questionnaire.
The bureau had also asked her to appear before it again on August 8, saying that she had failed to satisfy NAB with her answers.