PESHAWAR: An accountability court on Thursday turned down the plea bargain of an imprisoned former special assistant to a former chief minister, Syed Masoom Shah, who had agreed to return Rs258.7 million of his ill-gotten wealth to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Judge Mohammad Ibrahim Khan rejected an application of the NAB, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, seeking approval of the court for plea bargain of the accused, who is an ANP leader and remained special assistant to former chief minister Ameer Haider Kan Hoti.
The judge pronounced a short order after hearing arguments of NAB deputy prosecutor general Mohammad Jamil.
The accountability court very rarely rejects plea bargain applications after approval is given by the NAB chairman.
Masoom Shah had agreed to give NAB ill-gotten Rs258.7m
The NAB chairman had approved the plea bargain of the accused, who was arrested on Aug 11 on charges of possessing illegal assets, and an application was referred to the accountability court for giving final approval to the plea under section 25-B of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.
Under the said section, the NAB chairman in his discretion accepts the offer of plea bargain on such terms and conditions as he considers necessary and if the accused agrees to give to the NAB the amount determined by the chairman, the NAB shall refer the case for the approval of the court and for the release of the accused.
Under the agreement with the NAB, the accused had deposited Rs91.7 million with the bureau in shape of a bank draft. Also, he had submitted bank guarantees to the tune of Rs150 million, whereas gold recovered from the accused by the bureau was to the tune of Rs14 million.
The application was referred to the court last month, but the judge had initially returned the application on some technical grounds.
Later, the NAB re-submitted the application but certain queries were made by the court regarding the amount deposited by the accused as well as the estimates made by the NAB of the properties possessed by the accused.
Deputy prosecutor general Mohammad Jamil and prosecutor Imtiaz Shinwari, tried to convince the court that the bureau had made accurate calculations of the properties possessed by the accused. The DPG stated that the plea bargain was approved by the chairman keeping in view the properties of the accused so far traced by them.
However, his arguments could not satisfy the court and the application was turned down.
The accused had recently also filed a writ petition before the Peshawar High Court against the delay in giving final approval to his plea bargain by the accountability court despite the approval given by the NAB chairman. However, on Feb 2 the high court had dismissed that petition.
The accused had earlier given application of voluntary return and had expressed his willingness to pay Rs200 million at that time. However, few months ago NAB chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry had turned down that application and converted the inquiry against him into investigation.
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