General

Accountability court adjourns hearing of Nawaz’s corruption cases till August 1

Accountability Court-I Judge Mohammad Bashir resumed hearing the Al Azizia and Flagship corruption references against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday.
As the hearing went under way, the court inquired into the presence of Nawaz’s counsel Khawaja Haris. His colleague then informed the court that the counsel is on his way.
When the judge asked when the Islamabad High Court (IHC) will take up the Sharif family’s pleas against the Avenfield verdict, the secondary counsel replied that their appeals will be heard tomorrow.
The judge then decided to briefly adjourn today’s hearing to allow Nawaz’s counsel to appear in court before he takes matters forward.
After the recess, Judge Bashir observed that he would wait for the IHC’s instructions tomorrow.
The hearing was then adjourned till August 1.
Haris seeks transfer of cases to another judge
At the last hearing on July 18, Haris had reiterated his objection to the proceedings being heard by the same judge who has already ruled in one of the three corruption cases against his client.
The judge remarked that he has written about the matter to the IHC, adding that transferring the case to another court does not come under his jurisdiction.
NAB Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi argued that the IHC had not issued any stay order on the trial proceedings and called for continuation of the cases.
He added that it would be appropriate if the same judge who has overseen the case since day one presides over the trial in its concluding phase.
Haris also stated that they would not become part of the proceedings until the IHC rules on their plea to transfer the case to another trial court.
The hearing was then adjourned until July 30.
Sharif family appeals Avenfield verdict in IHC
A day earlier, on July 17, the IHC took up the Sharif family’s appeals and issued notices to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and adjourned the matter until the last week of July.
The court issued separate notices to NAB on Nawaz’s plea to transfer the remaining corruption cases against him to another judge as well as on the family’s appeals against the Avenfield verdict.
However, the court dismissed their requests to stay the corruption trial of the remaining references, as well as the Avenfield verdict, till their appeals are decided by the IHC.
Nawaz and family were thus confined to jail until the July 25 election, which saw the previously ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz being defeated by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.
IHC Justices Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb had conducted the proceedings.
A number of appeals have been filed by Nawaz, his daughter Maryam and son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar regarding the Avenfield case verdict.
At present, Nawaz has been shifted to Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences in Islamabad from Rawalpindi’s Adiala prison after his medical condition deteriorated.
The cardiac ward of the hospital has been declared a sub-jail for the purpose.
Meanwhile, Maryam and Safdar are serving their sentence at the Adiala prison.
The trial
The trial against the Sharif family had commenced on September 14, 2017 after NAB filed the Avenfield, Al Azizia and Flagship references.
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 was sentenced to a total of 11 years in prison and slapped a £8 million fine (Rs1.3 billion) while Maryam was sentenced to eight years with a £2 million fine (Rs335 million). Moreover, Maryam’s husband, Capt (retd) Safdar, was sentenced to one year in prison.
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.