Zardari, Gilani to be indicted on Sep 9 in Tosha Kahana case

Court refuses to proceed further against Nawaz Sharif till IHC's verdict on his petition

By: News Desk      Published: 12:18 PM, 17 Aug, 2020
Zardari, Gilani to be indicted on Sep 9 in Tosha Kahana case

An accountability court in Islamabad Monday adjourned the hearing of Tosha Khana reference till September 9 and deferred the indictment of former President Asif Ali Zardari till next hearing.

The Islamabad Capital Territory Police took high-security measures to avoid any untoward incident and put six-tier barricades on roads leading towards the accountability court in Islamabad.

The court also ordered that former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, Abdul Ghani Majeed and Anwar Majeed will be indicted in the reference on September 9. The court ordered each to submit Rs2m surety bonds.

The court also stopped the process of declaring former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif a proclaimed offended in the same case.

The accountability court judge said that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's matter before the court will be heard on August 25. "By that time, the IHC's verdict will also be released," he said.

The court refused to proceed further against Nawaz till the IHC's verdict on his petition was not issued.

Asif Ali Zardari appeared before the court with her daughter Aseefa Bhutto Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, after the court rejected an application to excuse him from the physical appearance or appeared through a video link.

Zardari's lawyer Farooq H Naek complained to the court that he was not allowed inside the courtroom despite being a senior lawyer.

"This is neither a military court not an in-camera trial," he said. "I am a senior lawyer of the Supreme Court and police pushed me away with their shields," he added.

Naek pointed out that former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gillani contracted COVID-19 after appearing before the court for a hearing. He wondered who will be held responsible if the same happened to Zardari.  

Abdul Ghani Majeed's lawyer requested the court to allow the suspect to be presented before the court. "He (Ghani) hasn't been allowed to appear before the court yet," he stated.

Replying to this, the Accountability Court Judge said: “I also had difficulty in coming to the accountability court. They also stopped me at the police check post and then I came from the other way.”

The judge remarked said he will take up the matter with the administration so that such a situation does not arise in the future.

There were also heated exchanges between Zardari lawyers and NAB’s Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbassi.

The NAB reference filed against Zardari and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif accuses them of obtaining the cars from Tosha Khana (gift depository) by paying 15% of the price of the cars.

Zardari also received cars as gifts from Libya and the UAE when he was president and used them for his personal use instead of depositing them in the treasury, the anti-graft body had alleged.

Former premier Yousuf Raza Gillani has been accused of facilitating Zardari and Nawaz in this matter. The anti-graft body has accused Gillani of relaxing the procedure for acceptance and disposal of gifts.  Khawaja Anwar Majeed and Khawaja Abdul Ghani Majeed, owners of the Omni Group, are also nominated as accused in the reference.

According to reports, Nawaz was not holding any public office in 2008 but was given a vehicle without any justification. NAB says the leaders have been charged with corruption under sub-sections 2, 4, 7 and 12 of Section 9 (A) of the NAB Ordinance.

The Tosha Khana (gift depository) gift from any country to the head of the state remains the property of the government unless sold at an open auction. Rules allow officials to retain gifts with a market value of less than Rs10,000 without paying anything.