IHC reserves verdict on Nawaz Sharif’s case transfer petition

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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) resumed hearing on Tuesday the plea of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to transfer the remaining corruption references against him to another court.

 

Nawaz’s legal counsel had filed an appeal requesting the court to transfer the Al-Azizia and Flagship Investment references from the court of Accountability Judge-I Mohammad Bashir to another accountability court.

 

The Sharif family had also petitioned against their convictions in the Avenfield reference. IHC had clubbed the two references, which are being heard by a two-member bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb.

 

As the hearing began hearing the case, National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) Additional Deputy Prosecutor General prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi began presenting his arguments.

 

The prosecution contended that the defence had earlier requested for a joint testimony of witnesses in all three corruption references against the Sharif family. “The defence counsel cannot cross-examine joint witnesses,” Abbasi said.

 

The NAB prosecutor further noted that the statements of 342 accused persons in the case are yet to be recorded. “The defence will have time to make its case during the proceedings,” he said.

 

After the defence presented its arguments, the court reserved its verdict on the transfer petition —  expected to be announced shortly.

 

Without hearing the plea against conviction of Captain (retired) Safdar Awan in the Avenfield reference, the court adjourned it till Wednesday (tomorrow). Nawaz and daughter Maryam’s plea against conviction in the same case was adjourned till Monday.

 

On July 6, an accountability court had sentenced Nawaz to a total of 11 years in prison and slapped a £8 million fine (Rs1.3 billion) in the corruption reference, while his daughter Maryam was sentenced to eight years with a £2 million fine (Rs335 million). Nawaz’s son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar was also given a one-year sentence without any fine.

 

The Sharifs had challenged their convictions in the IHC, highlighting the legal flaws in the Avenfield judgement and asking for the accountability court’s verdict to be declared null and void and the three convicts to be released on bail.

 

The trial

The trial against the Sharif family commenced on September 14, 2017.

 

On July 6, after four extensions in the original six-month deadline to conclude all three cases, the court announced its verdict in the Avenfield reference.

 

Nawaz and his sons, Hussain and Hasan, are accused in all three references whereas Maryam and Safdar were accused in the Avenfield reference only.

 

The two brothers, based abroad, have been absconding since the proceedings began last year and were declared proclaimed offenders by the court.

 

On July 10, the Supreme Court granted another six-week extension for Accountability Court-I Judge Mohammad Bashir to conclude the remaining corruption references against Nawaz and former finance minister Ishaq Dar.

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