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Interim bail of Zardari, Faryal extended till Jan 23.

Byline: Naeem Sahoutara

KARACHI -- The interim bail of former president Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur was on Monday extended till Jan 23 after the banking court granted more time to the Federal Investigation Agency to submit final investigation report in a case pertaining to alleged laundering of Rs4.14 billion through fake bank accounts.

Both siblings appeared before the court along with some Pakistan Peoples Party leaders and activists, who appeared to be a bit relaxed compared to the last hearing when they were visibly upset amid apprehensions of the arrest of Mr Zardari and Ms Talpur after the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) had submitted its report of probe into the scam to the Supreme Court last month.

Former chairman of the Pakistan Stock Exchange Hussain Lawai, Taha Raza, Anwar Majeed and Abdul Ghani Majeed have been under detention over their alleged involvement in facilitating around 29 fake bank accounts and Rs4.14bn money laundering.

Mr Zardari, Ms Talpur and Zain Malik, son-in-law of real estate tycoon Malik Riaz, along with 14 other bankers and businessmen have also been booked in the same case.

On Monday, Mr Zardari, Ms Talpur and around 12 other suspects appeared before Judge Tariq MehAmood Khoso for confirmation of their interim bail or otherwise, amid tight security. At the outset, FIA assistant director Bakhtiar Ahmed Channa appeared along with the special prosecutor, deputy director Mumtaz Malik and other officials.

Mr Channa moved an application, requesting the court to allow him more time to submit the final investigation report in the case.

Opposing his request, Mr Lawai's counsel Shaukat Hayat requested the court to pass an order on his pending application seeking a directive for the prosecutor to submit a final investigation report in the case, as the same had not been done since the proceedings were initiated in July last year.

However, the judge observed that the trial court could not pass any order on the pending applications since the apex court had restrained it from doing so and allowed the FIA prosecutor time till Jan 23 to file the final investigation report.

Till then, the judge extended interim bail of Mr Zardari, Ms Talpur, Zain Malik and around 11 others.

Mr Lawai along with businessman Anwar Majeed, who is known to be a close friend of Mr Zardari, were also produced from prison following their transfer from Adiala jail, Rawalpindi, where they were shifted last month for grilling by the JIT on the directives of the SC.

However, prison officials informed the judge that Abdul Ghani Majeed and Taha Raza could not be produced due to their poor health conditions.

The judge directed the investigation officer to expedite the process of proclamation and attachment of the properties of five absconding suspects, including UAE national Nasser Abdulla Hussain Lootah, till the next date.

Later, PPP leader Manzoor Wassan told reporters outside the courtroom that 'today, I am dreaming to see Mr Zardari as a free man'.

Saying that Mr Zardari had already spent 11 years in prison, the PPP leader termed the money laundering case against their leadership 'revenge instead of accountability'.

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Publication:Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Jan 8, 2019
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