Pakistan’s former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf was on Friday charged along with six others in the Rs. 22 billion rental power scam by a court in Islamabad.

All the accused, including the former Federal Minister for water and power, refused to plead guilty to the charges before the Accountability Court.

The bench conducting the trial sought all relevant evidence from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the next hearing of the case which was adjourned until February 4.

Later, Mr. Ashraf said his character assassination by the media was highly regrettable, adding his hands were clean and he performed his duty with utmost honesty.

His lawyer Farooq H. Naek said Mr. Ashraf has been charged on three counts, “which has proved that he didn’t cause any loss to the exchequer and he didn’t indulge in any corruption”.

He said that the charges framed against him include violation of PEPRA rules and other allegations.

Mr. Naek expressed confidence that Mr. Ashraf would soon be acquitted honourably.

Mr. Ashraf, who served as premier between June 22, 2012 and March 25, 2013, is accused of receiving kickbacks and commissions from nine rental power project firms for awarding contracts for setting up their projects in 2008 to overcome electricity crisis in the country.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has been investigating 12 RPP cases in which nine firms reportedly received more than Rs. 22 billion as mobilisation advance from the government to commission the projects, but most of them were accused of failing to set up plants.

The bureau had already recovered Rs. 13 billion in the case.

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