Khurram sentenced to 3 years in prison
ISLAMABAD/LAHORE – An accountability court Thursday indicted Khurram Rasool, former media coordinator of the Prime Minister, in a bank fraud case, sentencing him three years imprisonment.
Justice Jahandad Khan of Rawalpindi Accountability Court (AC-III) who sentenced Khurram Rasool in absentia also issued arrest warrants for him.
Four co-accused, including three bank officials Husnain Haider, Rehan Sheikh and Mumtaz Nasir, and one Muhammad Tariq, who had been working with Khurram, were handed down four-year imprisonment and Rs500,000 fine each. They will face another six months imprisonment in case of non-payment of the fine.
The convicts lent Rs71.94 million from a private bank by providing fake asset details in 2009. The corruption reference against them was filed in the same year.
The court convicted Khurram under section 31-A of the NAB ordinance for not appearing before the court even after his being declared a proclaimed offender (PO) on April 28, 2011. After the cancellation of his bail bonds on January 26, 2011 by the accountability court he had applied for a protective bail before the Islamabad High Court, which rejected his application on February 2, 2011.
The court declared Khurram a PO after completion of the mandatory period after cancellation of bail bonds. But he did not furnish his appearance afterwards and the court then awarded him with a sentence in absentia. Khurram’s counsel Qausain Faisal Mufti said that his client had already paid 63 million rupees out of the about seventy million loan but the bank has been black mailing him. He said that an appeal against the decision would be filed.
Prior to the sentencing, Khurram was given interim bail by a banking court in Lahore which had ordered that he not be arrested till February 2. But the Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the FIA to arrest PM Yousuf Raza Gilani’s former media coordinator in the multimillion rupee LPG fraud case by January 27.
On Thursday also, Khurram Rasool succeeded to have ‘liberty’ for six more days as a special court for banking offences in Lahore granted him interim bail till Feb 2 just hours after the Lahore High Court denied protective bail to him for not appearing before the court.
Court for Banking Offences Judge Amjad Pervez granted him pre-arrest bail till Feb 2 subject to furnishing of bail bonds worth Rs1 million. The judge also summoned case record from the FIA on next hearing.
Earlier, a two-member bench of the Lahore High Court comprising Justice Najmul Hassan and Justice Mehmood Bajwa dismissed Khurram’s petition for protective bail as he did not appear himself.
Advocate Noor Muhammad Jaspal represented the accused and pressed the bench to grant protective bail to his client for a day enabling him to submit his viewpoint in a proper way. The counsel pleaded that the accused could not appear before the court fearing the NAB officials would arrest him. However, the division bench said that protective bail could not be granted to Khurram without obtaining the NAB’s stance on the issue.
Following the short orders, NAB officials appeared before bench and informed that the accused was required in a bank fraud case. NAB officials requested the court not to allow protective bail to Khurram Rasool.
After recording NAB officials’ arguments, the bench asked the advocate Jaspal about the accused. The petitioner’s counsel, however, contended that his client feared security risk and could not appear before the court.
At this, Justice Hassan said to the counsel, “You should know that in such cases, personal appearance of petitioner/accused is mandatory.”
The counsel did not insist on the plea and sought permission to withdraw the same. The bench observed that the order would be same and dismissed the petition.