A Pakistan accountability court has indicted former President Asif Ali Zardari and former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in connection with the Toshakhana (gift depository) case and declared former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif a proclaimed offender in the matter. Accountability court Judge Asghar Ali in Islamabad also framed charges against Omni Group chairman Anwar Majeed and his son, Abdul Ghani Majeed in the case, The Express Tribune reported.
In the case, Sharif and Zardari have been accused by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) of illegally retaining expensive vehicles gifted to them by various foreign countries and dignitaries instead of depositing them in the Toshakhana. According to the country’s top anti-corruption body, Gilani, during his tenure as Prime Minister, facilitated Zardari in retaining the vehicles. The NAB said Zardari and Sharif retained the vehicles “against a nominal payment of 15 per cent of their total value through dishonest and illegal means for their personal benefit and interest”.
Zardari, Gilani, and the father-son duo of Omani group pleaded not guilty to the charges in connection to the case. On the other hand, Sharif was declared a proclaimed offender after his case was separated from other suspects. The accountability court sought details of Sharif’s movable and immovable properties within seven days. It observed that the former Prime Minister’s properties will be frozen if he failed to appear before the court.
Gilani objected to the indictment, asserting he never carried out an 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 was quoted as saying.
In response, the accountability court judge told him that action will be initiated as per law. “We are not yet discussing the merits of the case, or how the summary was moved and approved. You have to tell this to the court during the trial,” he said. The court then fixed September 24 as the next date of hearing.
Earlier, the court had accepted NAB’s decision to seize two BMWs and a Lexus from Zardari and a Mercedes from Sharif, according to The Express Tribune. The NAB said Zardari had received expensive cars as a gift from Libya and the UAE, during his tenure as the country’s President, but illegally retained them instead of depositing them in the Tosakhana.