LHC grants Hamza pre-arrest bail in Sugar Mills case

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday granted Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hamza Shahbaz pre-arrest bail till April 17 in the Ramzan Sugar Mills and Saaf Pani Company cases.

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The high court also ordered Hamza to pay bail bonds worth of Rs10 million each and sent a notice to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) requesting response in the matter.

The PML-N leader had submitted two separate applications requesting pre-arrest bail which were heard by a two-member bench headed by Justice Malik Shahzad Ahmad Khan.

The petition stated that NAB had previously “called politicians in one case and arrested them in another case” as the Punjab Assembly Opposition leader was scared that same would be his fate.

According to a notice issued Tuesday night, Hamza was summoned by NAB for hearing in money laundering and having assets beyond earnings case, PML-N leader’s lawyer told the court.

The lawyer reminded the court that Hamza earlier had been granted pre-arrest bail in one case and was indicted in another so he was worried that NAB would handcuff him.

On Monday, LHC  restrained NAB from arresting Hamza till April 17 in having assets beyond income case.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice Malik Shehzad Ahmed Khan heard the PML-N leader’s bail petition. Restraining the accountability watchdog from arresting Hamza until further notice, the court sought a detailed reply from NAB.

The court then directed Hamza to submit bail bonds worth Rs10 million.

NAB had carried out two raids on Friday and Saturday at PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif’s Model Town residence to arrest Hamza.

During Monday’s hearing, Hamza’s lawyer told the court, “In an earlier order, the high court had directed that Hamza be informed 10 days prior to his arrest. The LHC had granted bail to my client in the Ramzan Sugar Mills case.”

“Hamza is the opposition leader in the Punjab Assembly and the 10-day order had been issued so the relevant forum can be approached for bail. Hamza is seeking pre-arrest bail so he can appear before NAB,” the PML-N leader’s counsel further said.

Justice Malik Shehzad then asked the NAB prosecutor regarding the cases in which they are seeking to arrest Hamza. At this, the PML-N leader’s counsel said his arrest warrants have been issued in a case pertaining to assets beyond known sources of income.

The NAB prosecutor said, “Three cases against Hamza are being probed in NAB Lahore.”

On Tuesday, opposition leader in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif and his son, Hamza, were indicted  in the Ramzan Sugar Mills case.

The father-son duo appeared before an accountability court in Lahore earlier today, where they were indicted in the Ramzan Sugar Mills corruption reference.

Both Shehbaz and Hamza have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

NAB in February had filed a reference against the two alleging that the former chief minister of Punjab misused his authority by using public funds for the construction of a bridge to facilitate the Ramzan mills, owned by his sons.

As the hearing began, Judge Najamul Hassan asked the NAB prosecutor what the Ramzan Sugar Mills reference was, to which the prosecutor replied that public funds were used to build a nullah for the mills.

Shehbaz, in his defence, responded, “In 10 years, I have saved the country billions of rupees, and God knows that. I had nothing to do with this nullah, and no money was wrongfully used.”

The Lahore High Court on February 14 had granted bail to Shehbaz in the Ashiana Iqbal Housing scheme and Ramzan Sugar Mills cases. The opposition leader was earlier indicted in the Ashiana scheme case.

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