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Graft cases: Dar's lawyer fails to appear, court adjourns hearing till October 23

Graft cases: Dar's lawyer fails to appear, court adjourns hearing till October 23

The accountability court on Wednesday adjourned the sixth hearing of three graft cases against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar till October 23 after the minister's senior counsel left the country in a rush earlier the same day.

The accountability court had indicted Dar last month in a National Accountability Bureau (NAB) reference pertaining to his owning assets "beyond his known sources of income”.

As the hearing went underway, Advocate Momina, a junior member of Dar's legal team, moved the court to adjourn the hearing till October 25 as Haris would be out of town until then.

The court, however, adjourned the hearing till Oct 23 after discovering that Haris will return to Pakistan on Sunday night (Oct 22).

During the proceedings, the court also called Dar to the rostrum and asked him why his lawyer had failed to appear in court, upon which the finance minister said that his lawyer had no intention of leaving the country till last night, but had to leave "due to an emergency".

In the preceding hearing of the case, Haris had cross-questioned Al-Baraka Islamic Bank's Assistant Vice President Tariq Javed — the prosecution's third witness.

During his cross-examination, Haris had claimed there were discrepancies in the statement of bank accounts and the details presented by the witness, adding that some documents were also missing.

When the court asked about the importance of the discrepancies, Haris said on the basis of Section 265-K of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the accused may be acquitted for insufficient evidence.

On the other hand, the NAB prosecutor had objected to several questions Haris had put to the witness, saying the defence counsel was posing "irrelevant" questions.

Under the law of evidence, the contents of documents are only for the court to examine and these could not come under discussion during the cross-examination.

At the outset of the proceedings in the case, Dar had sought an exemption from personal appearances in court as he had to attend a joint meeting of the cabinet and the Revenue Division, but the court turned down his request.

The NAB prosecutor had opposed the exemption, arguing that under the law, the presence of the accused was mandatory during the recording of evidence.

On July 28, a five-member Supreme Court bench had ordered NAB to file three references against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and one against Dar, on petitions filed by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Imran Khan, Jamaat-i-Islami’s Sirajul Haq and Awami Muslim League’s Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.

In its reference against the finance minister, NAB has alleged that “the accused has acquired assets and pecuniary interests/resources in his own name and/or in the name of his dependants of an approximate amount of Rs831.678 million (approx)”.

The reference alleged that the assets were “disproportionate to his known sources of income for which he could not reasonably account for”.

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