ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party led by former premier Imran Khan has demanded an independent investigation into the death of a central figure in the alleged Rs 16 billion money laundering case against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shehbaz.
Maqsood Ahmad, 49, also known as Maqsood Chaprasi (peon), died in the UAE on July 7 due to unknown reasons, according to the Emirati authorities. But media reports said that he died of cardiac arrest.
He was the main figure in the case against the Sharifs, according to the Federal Investigation Agency, which probed the cases and is close to formally presenting the charges in the court.
The Opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had alleged that the Sharifs had used the bank account of Maqsood and their other employees to launder money.
After his untimely passing, the PTI has demanded that the death should be probed as it is the second death of a person involved in the case against the Sharifs.
Hamza Shehbaz is now the chief minister of Punjab province.
Earlier, the FIA investigator Muhammad Rizwan, who was the FIA Lahore director, died of a heart attack last month.
He had gone on a long leave just before the formation of the new government under Shehbaz Sharif after the ouster of Imran Khan.
PTI demanded an independent probe to ascertain the cause of death not only of Maqsood but also of Rizwan.
"It is very disturbing news. Those investigating the Sharifs or witnesses in their cases are dying suddenly. First, Dr Rizwan died suddenly. And now Maqsood Chaprasi, an important witness, in this case is also no more," PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry tweeted.
He went on to add: "That is why the Supreme Court has called the Sharifs 'Sicilian Mafia'. We demand an investigation into both deaths."
Maqsood was a co-accused and proclaimed offender in the money laundering case against the Prime Minister and his family.
He had reportedly left for the UAE in 2018, just before the PTI led by Khan came to power.
Former prime minister Khan has repeatedly referred to him in his public speeches alleging that Shehbaz Sharif and his sons laundered billions of rupees using Maqsood's bank account.
Meanwhile, FIA special prosecutor Farooq Bajwa said that Maqsood's death would not impact the money laundering case.
"Maqsood was a suspect and not a witness, thus his death will not affect the case," Bajwa told the media.
Maqsood was a peon at the Ramzan Sugar Mills belonging to the sons of Shehbaz.
The FIA had found a hefty Rs3 billion in his bank account.
"Maqsood worked as a tea boy/peon at the Ramzan Sugar Mills (owned by the Sharif family). His last drawn salary was Rs25,000 in 2017 and then he absconded to the UAE on March 14, 2018. At least seven benami (fake) accounts were opened in his name where Rs3 billion was transferred," the FIA had said.
Shehbaz and his sons - Hamza and Suleman - are the principal accused in the case, while 14 others are co-accused in the money laundering case.
Both Shehbaz and Hamza are on pre-arrest bail in the case till June 11.