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22 November 2017 Last updated 11 minutes ago

Accountability court rejects Sharifs’ pleas seeking delay in trial

Nawaz Sharif File photo Nawaz Sharif

The accountability court on Thursday resumed hearing of corruption reference filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against Sharif family today (Thursday).

Judge Muhammad Bashir has summoned former prime minister Nawaz Sharif his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain (retd) Safdar for indictment.

The former premier did not appear before the court as he was in London to visit his ailing wife, Begum Kulsoom Nawaz. The former prime minister would also be indicted in corruption references despite his absence.

Nawaz Sharif’s daughter has reached the court in form of motorcade from the Islamabad airport where she landed today through a special flight. Captain (r) Safdar also reached the court separately.

During the hearing, Maryam Nawaz and his husband’s counsel, Advocate Amjad Pervaiz asked the court not to indict his clients as the NAB did not provided complete documents in the case. He added that Volume XI of the Panamagate JIT was also not given.

However, the NAB prosecution urged the court to indict them today.

A separate application was also filed by Khawaja Harris’s assistant on the behalf of former prime minister asking the NAB court to delay the indictment until the Supreme Court decides an application to club all NAB references.

Harris’ assistan Ayesha Hamid argued that all references were based on single JIT report and some witnesses in the cases are same; therefore, all references should be clubbed.

The court has rejected the both pleas.

Security Measures

Ahead of their appearance, strict security measures have been taken, while the security of the judicial complex is being handled by the Islamabad police and Frontier Constabulary (FC).

On Wednesday, security officials met with the NAB chairman and a judge to discuss security arrangements inside and outside the courts and the number of people who will be allowed inside the court to attend the hearing.

It was decided that 60 people will be allowed into the court room during the hearing including a team of 15 people comprising Sharifs’ legal team, guards and supporters.

Club All References

On Oct 13, Nawaz Sharif moved the Supreme Court to halt the proceeding of the accountability court in three corruption cases.

The former premier’s counsel filed an application citing Section 9 (a) (5) of the National Accountability Ordinance stated that more than one reference regarding owing assets beyond known sources of income can not be filed.

It says the proceedings of the NAB court should be stopped against Sharif family until a single reference is filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB)

The petitioner also asked that apex court’s direction to NAB regarding filing of three reference should be declared illegal.

The Sharif family’s petition states that conducting several trial on one allegation violates the basic rights of the petitioners.

Previous Proceedings

On October 9, Maryam Nawaz and her husband Captain (retd) Safdar appeared before the accountability court for the first time in a reference filed by the NAB regarding Avenfield apartments in London, but the former premier could not appear in court.

During the hearing, the court granted bail to Maryam and Safdar against surety bonds and summoned them on October 13 for indictment.

The court had granted a single-day immunity to Nawaz Sharif for physical appearance but announced that it would indict Nawaz Sharif if he fails to appear on the next hearing day scheduled for October 13. .

The court also issued perpetual arrest warrants for Hassan and Hussain Nawaz and also declared both the brothers absconders in a reference related to the posh London apartments.

However, the hearing of Oct 13 was adjourned without proceedings after a brawl erupted between security official and lawyers after they were barred from entering the federal judicial complex.

NAB References

NAB has filed three references against Nawaz Sharif and his children.

NAB’s Rawalpindi branch prepared references regarding the Azizia Steel Mills and nearly a dozen companies and made Nawaz Sharif and his sons respondents.

The bureau’s Lahore branch prepared a reference regarding Avenfield apartments in London in which the former premier, his three children and son-in-law have been made respondents.

The references were filed in the backdrop of Supreme Court’s July 28 decision in the Panama Papers case in which Nawaz Sharif was also disqualified for concealing his employment with Capital FZE, a firm owned by his younger son Hassan.