Court exempts Nawaz, Maryam from re-appearing for Al Azizia hearing today

The accountability court conducting corruption proceedings against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family reserved its decision on the defence’s plea against two supplementary references.
Nawaz, daughter Maryam, and son-in-law MNA Capt (retd) Safdar appeared in court today as the hearing of the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Flagship Investment Ltd supplementary references went under way.
Ordering Nawaz’s disqualification in the Panama Papers case on July 28, 2017, the Supreme Court had directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to file three references against the Sharif family and ordered the trial court to wrap up the proceedings in six months.
As the hearing went under way today, Nawaz’s counsel Ayesha Hamid argued against the Al Azizia and Flagship supplementary references filed by NAB recently.
Hamid claimed that there is nothing new in the supplementary references.
She also pleaded the court to ask the monitoring judge of the case, Supreme Court Justice Ijazul Ahsan, to extend the six-month deadline, saying recording statements of 16 new witnesses will take time and should not be taken lightly.
The NAB prosecutor opposed the plea after which the judge reserved his decision and may announce it when the hearing resumes at 1:30pm.
During the hearing, the counsel also pleaded that her clients should be exempted from re-appearing today when the hearing of the Avenfield supplementary reference resumes.
The judge asked the counsel to submit a written request in this regard with reasons. Ruling on the request after the hearing, the judge allowed the exemption but ordered Capt (retd) Safdar to be present in court.
Avenfield supplementary reference
When the hearing resumes, the court will take up the supplementary Avenfield reference, wherein two new witnesses — forensic expert Robert Radley and solicitor Akhtar Raja — will record their statement via video-link from UK.
NAB Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi and the representatives of the accused will be present at the Pakistan High Commission in London, where the recording will take place and be transmitted live to the court here.
At the last hearing of the case on February 13, Accountability Court-I Judge Mohammad Bashir had rejected the suspects’ request to be exempted from appearance owing to a visit to London.
NAB had filed the supplementary Avenfield reference on January 22 this year.