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Toshakhana case: Court moves to declare Sharif fugitive, issues arrest warrants for Zardari

ISLAMABAD: An accountability court of Islamabad on Tuesday issued bailable arrest warrants against former president Asif Ali Zardari and started the process of declaring former premier Nawaz Sharif a proclaimed offender in a reference accusing them and ex-PM Yousuf Raza Gillani of receiving luxury vehicles and gifts from Toshakhana.

A National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor submitted a compliance report to Accountability Judge Asghar Ali stating that the bureau forwarded arrest warrants against Sharif, who is in London, through the Foreign Office.

Observing that the PML-N supreme leader is not joining the trial proceedings intentionally, the judge issued directives for starting the process of declaring him a proclaimed offender over perpetual absence from the hearing.

Read More: Toshakhana reference: Court issues non-bailable arrest warrants for Nawaz Sharif

Senator Farooq H Naek, who represented the PPP co-chairman, moved an application on behalf of his client requesting the court to grant him exemption from personal appearance in today’s hearing due to the coronavirus fears.

He said Zardari, being a senior citizen, can’t turn up because of the pandemic.

This is a criminal case as Asif Zardari will have to show up, the judge observed, asking if the former president was diagnosed with the disease. The counsel replied that people will gather on the court premises because of the PPP leader’s appearance, putting not only themselves but him at potential risk of catching the contagion.

Prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar said it is up to the administration to prevent people from gathering, requesting the judge to not extend any concession to the former president and demanding his arrest warrants.

Read More: NAB files another reference against Nawaz Sharif, Asif Zardari  

He said the court gave Yousuf Raza Gillani exemption from personal appearance, due to which his counsel has not even turned up before the court, pleading with the court to withdraw the exemption granted to him.

Farooq H Naek argued that the court can issue warrants in case Zardari doesn’t appear, assuring he will show up on next hearing. He said ex-PM Gillani had gone into self-isolation after being diagnosed with the virus.

Read More: Former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gillani tests positive for coronavirus

The hearing was adjourned until August 17.

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