LAHORE  - PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif was absent from an accountability court that took up Ramzan Sugar Mills and Ashiana Housing Scheme cases on Saturday.

He had gone to London over a month ago to meet his grandchildren and undergo a medical checkup. The proceedings in the two cases were adjourned till May 28, although Opposition Leader in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz, who is also a co- accused in these cases, was present along with other accused.

The lawyer of the former chief minister told the court that he will be back after Eidul Fitr as he has an appointment with his doctor in Pakistan on June 7.

Special Judge Accountability Court Jawadul Hasan directed Shehbaz’s counsel to give a final date of his client’s return on the next hearing. The court demanded evidence to justify Shehbaz’s visit to London.

The court asked, “Which document do I have which shows that medical treatment (of Shehbaz) is not possible in Pakistan?” The lawyer replied that doctors in Pakistan had suggested Shehbaz to go to London for medical treatment.

Proceedings put off till 28th

The lawyer said that he was not asking for a permanent exemption, it’s just a matter of two weeks. He took the plea that in spite of Shahbaz’s absence, the trial of the case had not stopped.

He said the test of Shehbaz will be conducted on June 7 and he would return to country after receiving the test report.

On the other side, National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) prosecutor Waris Ali Janjua complained that the trial was not progressing due to Shahbaz’s absence though the rest of the suspects named in the references were present before the court.

He added, the PML-N leader had not taken the court’s permission before leaving the country.

The NAB official said that application for exemption is given by the accused again and again thereby stalling the trial of the case.

Accepting the exemption plea of Shehbaz, the court adjourned the hearing until May 28, and directed the defence counsel to ask his client what is the final date of his return.

Shehbaz and his son Hamza Shahbaz are accused of “fraudulently and dishonestly” in the Ramzan Sugar Mills corruption case. They are also accused of causing a Rs213 million loss to the national exchequer.

Likewise, Shehbaz Sharif is accused of ordering the cancellation of a contract given to successful bidder Chaudhry Latif and Sons for the Ashiyana housing scam.

As per NAB, the act on the part of the former chief minister led to the subsequent award of the contract to Lahore Casa Developers, a proxy group of Paragon City Private Limited, resulting in a loss of Rs193 million.

After his appearance in the court, PML-N leader Hamza Shehbaz said that a session of the National Assembly should be summoned on the alleged video scandal of the NAB chairman.

He said this matter should be taken to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC). He said that the all the opposition parties would be united on the issue of NAB chairman.

He said that making arrest of people was not the job of the NAB, adding that people were arrested without collecting evidence first.

Criticising the PTI-led government, Hamza said that the national economy was deteriorating while NAB was terrifying businessmen. He said that Imran Khan was the most incompetent prime minister in the history of the country.

The people should be aware of the fact that NAB was doing politics in the name of accountability. He blamed the PTI government of embezzling Rs7 billion in Peshawar Metro Bus project.

He said that both the NAB chairman and the prime minister should answerable to the people’s representatives on the issues in the National Assembly.