Former president Asif Ali Zardari’s protective bail was approved on Saturday by the Islamabad High Court. The decision in Hussain Lawai’s bail plea, however, will be announced on Monday.
On Friday, a banking court in Karachi issued a warrant for his arrest in a money laundering case.
Zardari had approached the court for protective bail and appeared in court on Saturday morning along with his daughter Aseefa. Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb heard the matter in his chamber and approved the request.
The PPP co-chairperson has said that he wants to present himself before the court in the case, which is why he wants protective bail that will prevent the FIA from arresting him. The judge granted him the bail on the condition that he appears before the court in the money laundering case.
He is a suspect in a money laundering case involving Rs35 billion funneled through fake bank accounts at three local banks. Zardari’s aide Anwar Majeed and his son AG Majeed were recently arrested in the case while Zardari’s sister Faryal Talpur has obtained pre-arrest bail.
Another close aide, Lawai, was the first to be arrested in the case. Lawai and another suspect, Taha Raza, approached the banking court in Karachi on Saturday for bail. The order in their plea has been reserved and will be announced on Monday.
Lawai’s lawyer Shaukat Hayat said that there is no solid proof against him. He said there has been no forensic testing of the Whatsapp messages presented as evidence, until which there is no legal standing to keep him incarcerated.
Hayat said it should be proven that Lawai took kickbacks and was involved in a crime. Not a single penny went into Lawai’s account, argued the lawyer, who questioned how he is accused in the case.
Additional FIA Director Mumtazul Hassan said that people who took Rs20,000 from the suspects have Rs4 billion in their bank accounts. Lawai was the head of Summit Bank and everything happened under his nose, he said.
Hassan said that the Omni Group, headed by Anwar, is also neck deep in the scam. Anwar had earlier tried to distance himself from the group by saying he was no longer running it due to his poor health.
The investigation officer, Ali Abro, informed the court that kickbacks from land and contracts were deposited into these fake accounts.
The court asked for evidence to back up these claims and told Abro to explain to the court why the suspects needed to open the fake accounts in the first place.
Of the 29 fake accounts, 16 were at Summit Bank, said the investigation officer.
Hassan asked the court to reject Lawai and Raza’s bail plea.