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IHC reserves judgement on Nawaz’s application to club accountability references

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday reserved its decision on a petition by ousted premier Nawaz Sharif to club accountability references against him.
Sharif had initially requested the court to club three corruption references filed against him by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), but his lawyer had later asked the court to club at least two of these references.
The two-judge bench, comprising Justice Umar Faarooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani, said it would provide a detailed verdict rather than a short order on the case.
NAB Deputy Prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi said that the witnesses had already begun recording their statements in all three references, rendering the petition to club them ineffective.
“This means that we should prevent the trial court from any further proceedings,” Justice Kiyani remarked.
Sharif’s lawyer said that he had been pleading that proceedings be paused since the beginning of the case.
Justice Kiyani asked the NAB counsel why the accountability body had not simply filed a separate reference for each allegation, to which the NAB counsel responded that separate references were filed as the properties in question were bought in different time periods at different locations.
Abbasi said that the clubbing of references and a joint trial would create difficulties for both NAB and the accused. The burden of proof in three separate references lies with NAB, so keeping the references separate does not necessarily favour NAB, he observed.
Earlier, the accountability court rejected Sharif’s repeated requests to club the references, after which Sharif petitioned the IHC for the same.
The references had been filed on directives given by the Supreme Court in Panama Papers case verdict.