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Pak court acquits media tycoon in land-related graft case; declares ex-PM Sharif ‘proclaimed offender’

Lahore, Jan 31 (PTI) A Pakistani court on Monday acquitted media tycoon Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman in a 34-year-old case related to a land he allegedly acquired illegally in collusion with former prime minister Nawaz Sharif who has been declared a “proclaimed offender” in this case.

Rehman, the owner of Pakistan’s largest media group Jang, which includes some of the country’s biggest newspapers and the Geo television network, was arrested by the National Acc­ountability Bureau (NAB) in March 2020 in the case and was subsequently released on bail by the apex court in November the same year.

“On Monday, an Accountability Court in Lahore acquitted Rehman after the prosecution failed to prove the charges against him,” a court official told PTI. He said Rehman had filed an acquittal petition in the case.

“Two other accused — former Lahore Development Authority (LDA) director Humayun Faiz Rasool and former director (land) Mian Bashir — have also been acquitted. Former prime minister Sharif had not applied for his acquittal. Since Sharif did not respond to any of NAB’s summons and questions in this case, he has been declared a proclaimed offender,” the official said.

According to the anti-graft body NAB, Rahman was allotted 54 plots (each measuring one kanal) in H-block of Jauhar Town Phase-II Lahore being the holder of general power of attorney on behalf of Hidayat Ali and Hikmat Ali by then Punjab chief minister Nawaz Sharif in 1986 in violation of the relevant laws/rules.

It said the suspects in collusion with one other had also included two streets in the allotted land, thus making the total allotted land to Rahman 59 kanals. The land of common passage (street) could not be sold to any person according to the law.

NAB said Sharif and the two LDA officers misused their authority in allotting the “precious land” along the canal to Rahman in violation of the rules.

Rahman claimed that he had bought the land in question from a private party and no illegality had been committed in this respect.

Rehman’s media group has been critical of Prime Minister Imran Khan who before coming to power in 2018 had declared that he would send him (Rehman) behind bars for his corruption (tax evasion and defamation).

Former premier Sharif had left for London in November 2019 after the Lahore High Court granted him a four-week permission to go abroad for treatment. He had submitted an undertaking to the court to return to Pakistan citing his record of facing the law and justice within four weeks or as soon as he was declared healthy and fit to travel by doctors.

Sharif was also given bail in the Al-Azizia Mills corruption case in which he was serving a seven-year prison sentence in Kot Lakhpat Jail. His party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), says Sharif will return to the country when he fully gets recovered from heart and other medical issues. PTI MZ SCY AKJ SCY

This report is auto-generated from PTI news service. ThePrint holds no responsibility for its content.

Source: The Print

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