Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shahbaz have once again evaded prosecution in the Rs 16 billion money laundering case.
The Special Court (Central-I) in Lahore fixed Wednesday for framing of charges against them and ordered Shahbaz and Hamza to ensure their presence.
When the hearing began on Wednesday, Shahbaz’s lawyer Mohammad Amjad Parvez filed an application against him, seeking exemption from appearance.
He said that the Prime Minister is suffering from cancer and is in London for treatment. He said the prime minister was scheduled to return on May 13, but he had a doctor’s appointment for his checkup on Wednesday, which delayed his return.
The Prime Minister will also visit the United Arab Emirates to condole the death of the country’s President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. For these reasons, the prime minister was unable to appear in court, the application added.
Judge Ejaz Hassan Awan accepted the application and extended the pre-arrest bail of Shahbaz and Hamza till May 21.
Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) prosecutor Farooq Bajwa said the agency has no objection to the exemption application.
Shahbaz and Hamza’s counsel Amjad Parvez also requested for deferment of framing of charges citing merits of the case.
He added that Shahbaz was never associated with the companies in any capacity and had no connection with the accounts through which the alleged money laundering was done.
Amjad argued that the previous Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government had registered the case without any investigation.
Shahbaz and Hamza were booked along with Suleiman Shahbaz, who was absconding in the United Kingdom. The FIR also named 14 others.
The FIA submitted the challan in December 2021, which claimed to have traced the benami accounts of the Shahbaz family through which money laundering was carried out.