Nawaz, Maryam, Safdar reach accountability court as corruption trial begins

The accountability court hearing corruption cases against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family will resume proceedings shortly.
Nawaz and his family are facing three corruption references filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in light of the Supreme Court’s July 28 judgment in the Panama Papers case.
Nawaz and his two sons, Hussain and Hasan, are nominated in all three references whereas his daughter Maryam and her husband MNA Capt (retd) Safdar are only accused in one.
Nawaz, who reached Islamabad earlier from Lahore, arrived at the court from Punjab House along with Maryam and Safdar.
Today, Judge Mohammad Bashir has summoned two NAB witnesses: Sidra Mansoor of Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and Jahangir Ahmed of Inland Revenue Department.
Ahmed will provide the court with the tax records of Sharifs whereas Mansoor will give details of their companies.
Hussain, Hasan likely to be declared proclaimed offenders
With regards to Nawaz’s sons, the court has separated their trial as they have been a constant no-show in court. They are expected to be declared proclaimed offenders today.
Despite the light rain in the capital, several workers and leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz in and outside the court complex to welcome the party chief.
State Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb and Railways Minister Saad Rafique, in separate brief media talks, continued to air their grievances against the ‘justice’ being meted out to the former premier.
Indictment, plea dismissal at last hearing
At the last hearing on November 15, the court had dismissed Nawaz’s plea seeking the clubbing of the three references against him into one.
Moreover, at the last hearing, the court formally framed charges against Nawaz in person, as previously his legal representative had appeared on his behalf for the indictment on October 19 and 20.
Rejecting the charges in the three references and pleading not guilty, as his representative had done earlier, Nawaz said in court that he was denied the right to a fair trial and his basic rights were not protected.
The references
The NAB has in total filed three references against the Sharif family and another against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in the accountability court, in light of the Supreme Court’s orders in the Panama Papers case verdict of July 28.
The anti-graft body was given six weeks, from the date of the apex court’s order, to file the reference in an accountability court while the accountability court was granted six months to wrap up the proceedings.
The references against the Sharif family pertain to the Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metals Establishment, their London properties and over dozen offshore companies owned by the family.
Maryam and Safdar are only nominated in the London properties reference. At an earlier hearing, the court also approved Maryam and Safdar’s bail in the Avenfiled properties case and ordered them to submit surety bonds worth Rs5 million each.
Safdar was also directed to take the court’s permission before leaving the country from now on. The judge also provided a copy of the reference — spread over 53 volumes — to Maryam and Safdar.
NAB’s Rawalpindi branch prepared two references regarding the Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metals Establishment, and the nearly dozen companies owned by the Sharif family.
Its Lahore branch prepared a reference on the Sharif family’s Avenfield apartments in London and another against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for owning assets beyond his known sources of income.
If convicted, the accused may face up to 14 years imprisonment and lifelong disqualification from holding public office including the freezing of bank accounts and assets.