LAHORE: An accountability court here on Saturday has served show-cause notices to the government and police officers over failing to produce Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hamza Shehbaz for a hearing of the Ramzan Sugar Mills case.
The prison’s deputy superintendent said Hamza was handed over to judicial authorities at 8:25 am but he refused to travel to court in the armoured vehicle and would not come out of his prison cell.
Expressing his dismay, Accountability Court Judge Amjad Nazir Chaudhry asked where the jail officials were, adding that it was their duty to fulfil their responsibility of producing accused persons over court orders.
“Will the suspect now decide when and how he appears before the court?” asked the judge.
He questioned whether other suspects who appear before the bench do so in their favourite cars.
“It is the failure of the state to be helpless in front of an accused,” he observed.
Judge Chaudhry issued directives to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to produce its witnesses in the next hearing and asked authorities to modify the date on the warrants of Hamza.
Later, the court adjourned the hearing till November 10.
The show-cause notices have been served to secretary home department, Superintendent Central Jail, Lahore Capital City Police Officer (CCPO), Superintendent Police (SP) headquarters and other officers. The officials were directed to appear in the next hearing to clarify their positions for not producing Hamza in the hearing.
Moreover, the accountability court’s judge termed the report presented by the jail superintendent ‘unsatisfactory’. and remarked that such an attitude of accused persons in sensitive cases poses dangers to the judicial system.
The judge also hinted at contempt of court action against the responsible persons over the violation of orders.
Hamza has been in the NAB’s custody since June last year. The bureau is investigating two different cases against Hamza regarding money laundering and holding assets beyond means.
According to the agency, in 2003, Hamza’s assets were worth Rs22.5 million, adding that from 2005-2007, the PML-N leader had not stated his assets. In 2009, his assets rose to Rs210 million, as per an investigating officer.
According to a NAB report regarding the grounds for his arrest, Hamza’s assets increased beyond his known means of income from 2003 till 2017. He is accused of causing a loss of over Rs210 million to the national treasury in the Ramzan Sugar Mills case. As per the report, Hamza had purchased many commercial and residential properties from 2012 to 2015.
Hamza contracted Covid-19 during his incarceration in September, his father and PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif had said.