- Ex-PM, other accused plead not guilty to charges
KARACHI: A federal anti-corruption court indicted former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and 25 others on Thursday in a corruption case pertaining to the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP). All the accused pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Among those indicted are Tariq Iqbal Puri, Abdul Karim Dawood Pota, Muhammad Zubair, Adnan Zaman, Younus Rizwani, Javed Anwar, Najamul Haq, Mirza Karim Baig, Sohail Mehmood, Farhan Ahmed and Asim Rizwani.
Gilani is named in as many as 26 cases originating from a multi-billion TDAP scam which had led to his disqualification and ouster back in 2012.
Gilani, retired and serving officers of TDAP and others have been accused of causing a loss of billions of rupees to the national exchequer through the approval and disbursement of fake and trade subsidies in the previous PPP government.
The Federal Investigation Agency had charge-sheeted Gilani in around 25 out of over 70 cases pertaining to the trade subsidy scam.
After the charges against the accused were read out in Thursday’s hearing, the court asked Gillani if they were true. The PPP leader responded that they were false allegations.
During the hearing, the judge asked Gilani how he would plead, to which the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader said he would plead not guilty.
He and others charged in the case, who were present in the court, pleaded not guilty.
Gilani’s counsel Barrister Farooq H Naek stated that his client was charged with corruption of Rs4.9 million in 26 cases, but maintained that all the allegations are untrue.
“Former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gillani is innocent and the allegations against him are false,” he said.
“He has been named in these cases due to political reasons and because of people harbouring ill intentions against him,” he added.
The court also summoned witnesses in the same hearing scheduled for April 11.
He was responding to a question regarding recent meeting between Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar.
In an earlier hearing, the court shelved indictment of Gilani in the case.
The indictment in the cases, which has been stretched over the past six years, kept postponing due to the absence of Gilani or his counsel.
Gillani, who was ousted during Zardari’s rule owing to a contempt of court case at the hands of the apex court, has not been held accountable for the corruption of multi-billions disbursement of trade subsidies as yet.
The court has so far declared more than ten suspects absconders in the cases, including Muhammad Noman, Farhan Junejo, Mian Muhammad Tariq, Akhtar Mehmood, Mehr Haroon Rasheed, Allahdad and Abid Ullah.