ISLAMABAD: Former president Asif Ali Zardari avoided indictment in the Park Lane reference yet again on Monday after his lawyer, Farooq H Naek, requested the court for additional time to prepare for the case.
During today’s hearing, Naek filed an application with the court, requesting the accountability court to give him some time.
“You should have submitted the request earlier,” remarked Judge Azam Khan after receiving the application.
To this, Naek responded by saying that he had to do more research and take out records related to the case, to defend his client.
However, NAB prosecutor Sardar Muzzafar Abbasi intervened and asked the court to issue a notice to them in the case. “We will argue today after 30 minutes,” Abbasi told the court.
“Why is the prosecutor in such a hurry in this case?” asked Naek upon hearing this. He questioned that there are other cases that NAB is pursuing but why was the anti-graft body in such a hurry when it came to this particular one.
“We should be given reasonable time. We are not asking for a stay order,” added Naek, adding that he was requesting the time for himself.
However, Abbasi responded by saying that NAB has to submit a response to the court and it should be the one asking for time.
“Keep the hearing for the case on the coming Tuesday, I have to do research,” Naek requested the court.
But Abbasi intervened again and told the court that it was necessary to charge the accused within seven days after copies of the reference were provided to them.
After hearing the lawyers, Judge Azam recommended July 9 as the next hearing date. But Naek stated that he had to appear at the Supreme Court’s Karachi registry which is why he could not appear for the hearing.
The court, after listening to the lawyer, set July 14 as the next hearing date, with Zardari’s lawyer told to submit his response on the submitted application that day.
The accountability court was expected to indict the former president in Park Lane case today.
The court had decided to frame charges against Zardari via video link at the hospital or his residence in case of his ill health. Registrar of the accountability court had written a letter to NAB, Karachi for finalising arrangements for the PPP leader’s indictment.
The court had directed Karachi NAB to ensure presence of the former president on the video link at his home or hospital in case of his ill health. The court had also directed NAB to ensure presence of other accused along with Zardari and take all necessary steps for their indictment.
The court in its letter said that the Karachi NAB should make arrangements for the indictment of Anwar Majeed, Farooq Abdullah and others accused in the reference.
In an earlier hearing, the court had also deferred Zardari’s indictment the reference after his counsel submitted an application, seeking exemption of his client from the appearance due to illness and the COVID-19 situation in the country.