An accountability court in Islamabad on Wednesday recorded the statement in the Toshakhana (gift depository) reference filed by the premier anti-graft body against former president Asif Ali Zardari and ex-PM Nawaz Sharif.
During the proceedings, the lawyers for Zardari and co-accused PPP leader Yousaf Raza Gilani, Omni Group chairman Anwar Majeed and his son Abdul Ghani Majeed filed an application seeking a one-day exemption for their clients from appearing before the court.
As the court started recording the statement of prosecution witness Mohammad Ahad, Gilani’s lawyer sought the adjournment of the hearing arguing that the matter was already being heard by the high court.
However, the judge continued to record the witness’ statement. Ahad told the court that he was serving as the deputy secretary in the cabinet division. On June 22, 2019, he appeared before an investigation officer of NAB along with the record in connection with the Toshakhana case.
The defence lawyer pointed out that the documents submitted by the witness would require time to review after which the hearing was adjourned till December 10.
Earlier, the court recorded the statement of another prosecution witness, Zubair Siddiqui.
Zardari and Sharif have been accused by the National Accountability Bureau of illegally retaining expensive vehicles gifted to them by different foreign states and dignitaries instead of depositing them in the Toshakhana.
It also maintained that PPP leader Yousaf Raza Gilani, during his tenure as the prime minister, facilitated the Zardari in retaining the vehicles.
According to the anti-corruption body, Zardari and Sharif retained the vehicles “against a nominal payment of 15% of their total value” through “dishonest and illegal means for their personal benefit and interest”.
The court had indicted Zardari and Gilani in the case and declared Sharif a proclaimed offender.
At a previous hearing, Gilani told the court that he had never carried out any action against the rules.
“Only a summary [for allowing the retention of vehicles] that came according to the law was approved. Had the summary been wrong, it would not have been moved,” he maintained.
Separately, another accountability court in Islamabad also recorded the statement of a witness in the Park Lane and Thatta water supply scheme reference against Zardari. The hearing was later adjourned till December 9.