Zardari appears in court over graft charges; no indictment

Zardari appears in court over graft charges; no indictment

ISLAMABAD: Former president Asif Ali Zardari Thursday appeared before the accountability court over National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) references but could not be indicted in Polo Ground and Cotecna references.
Accountability court judge Muhammad Bashir resumed hearing of the case pertaining to the five references against Zardari – Polo Ground, SGS, Ursus tractors deal, Cotecna and ARY Gold cases. Zardari’s counsel Farooq H Naek apprised the court that according to law his client could not be indicted before hearing of his arguments and sought the court’s permission to present his arguments over the indictment, which would now be presented on January 18.
Meanwhile, four witnesses, Manzoor Memon, Muhammad Malik, Neelam Ahsan and Muhammad Amir, also appeared before the accountability court in three references – SGS, Ursus tractors deal and ARY Gold. They informed the court that they have already recorded their statements more than three times in these references. Judge Muhammad Bashir asked Zardari’s defence counsel to question the witnesses against his client, but he refused to do so.
Naek argued that the main accused in the case, Benazir Bhutto and AR Siddqui, had been acquitted in these references, so how could a co-accused be convicted. The court adjourned the hearing of the case until January 18. Zardari arrived at the accountability court amid strict security. Talking to media after the hearing of the case, Naek said that arguments will be presented in the next hearing. He emphasised that no charge has been framed against Zardari.
Defence lawyer Amjad Iqbal Qureshi told reporters the evidence against the former president was flimsy. “He could not be indicted in the polo ground case because we argued that charges cannot be framed against him as there are no witnesses against him,” Qureshi said. It must be noted that the accountability court had re-opened five references against Zardari in October when NAB pleaded that his immunity had ended after he had stepped down as president. 

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