Pakistan court rejects Dar's exemption plea, adjourns hearing till October 18
October 16, 2017 | 9:30 PM
by PTI
Pakistan's Finance Minister Ishaq Dar is seen after a party meeting in Islamabad, Pakistan on September 26, 2017. Photo - Reuters file

Islamabad: Pakistan's embattled Finance Minister Ishaq Dar's plea to be exempted from personal appearance in the anti-graft court was on Monday rejected by the court, observing that the accused should be present when the witnesses record their statements and are cross-examined.

The Accountability Court had indicted Dar, 67, last month in a case pertaining to his owning "assets beyond his known sources of income".

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had registered three cases of corruption and money laundering against ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his family members and Finance Minister Dar in the Islamabad Accountability Court.

The cases were registered weeks after the Supreme Court disqualified Sharif as prime minister on July 28 in the Panama Papers scandal.

Dar, who appeared for the fifth time in the Accountability Court on Monday, amid tight security, was represented by his lawyer Khawaja Harris, who pleaded to exempt the finance minister from appearing in the court for Monday's hearing.

In the application, junior lawyer Kauseen Faisal Mufti said that Dar wished to be exempted from court in order to be able to concentrate on his duties as the country's finance minister.

However, Judge Mohammad Bashir remarked that the lead counsel can present the exemption arguments when he appears in court. He observed further that the accused needs to be present when witnesses are recording statements (and thus cannot be exempted from appearance).

Judge Bashir initialy deferred the judgement on the matter and later adjourned until October 18.

In its case against the finance minister, the 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 Rs 831.678 million (approx)".

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