Dr Asim’s acquittal plea dismissed in Rs17bn NAB reference

Our Correspondent
Sunday, Apr 09, 2023

karachi: An accountability court dismissed on Saturday an application of former federal minister and Pakistan Peoples Party leader Dr Asim Hussain seeking his acquittal in a seven-year-old Rs17 billion graft reference.

Dr Asim, who is considered to be a close aide to former president Asif Ali Zardari, along with former senior officials of the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) and Oil and Gas Development Corporation (OGDC), has been charged with misusing his authority to fraudulently award contracts of five gas fields in Sindh to the Jamshoro Joint Venture Limited (JJVL) that caused a loss of over Rs17bn to the national exchequer.

He moved an application before Accountability Judge-IV Suresh Kumar seeking his acquittal in the present case under the Section 265-K (power of court to acquit accused at any stage of the trial) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

The judge announced his verdict after hearing arguments from both the prosecution and defence sides. Rejecting the plea, he observed that the accused failed to make out a case for his acquittal.

The judge summoned the prosecution witnesses to appear on the next date to record their testimonies and adjourned the hearing until April 17.

Dr Asim’s lawyer Owais Jamal contended that the prosecution had failed to bring on record any convincing evidence to prove its case against his client. He requested the judge to exonerate him from all the charges.

Meanwhile, a NAB prosecutor argued that the accused during his stint as a federal minister misused his powers and fraudulently awarded the contracts, causing billions of rupees loss to the exchequer. Last month, the accountability court had dismissed a similar plea of Dr Asim in another graft reference pertaining to alleged Rs460 billion corruption.