Accountability court rejects Sharif’s request for merging three corruption references into one
ISLAMABAD: An accountability court on Wednesday rejected a request made by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif for a single trial on all the three references filed against him by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Judge Muhammad Bashir had a day earlier reserved the verdict after defence counsel Khawaja Haris and NAB prosecutor concluded their arguments.
After pronouncement of the verdict, he framed charges against Sharif in each of the three references related to the Sharif family’s London flats, Flagship Investment Ltd and Al Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment.
The former prime minister rejected all corruption charges and opted to contest them.
Earlier in the day, Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain (retd) Safdar, arrived at the court under an extensive protocol.
The former prime minister had filed applications in the trial court, requesting it to conduct a joint trial of all the three references filed against him by the NAB.
On Oct 19, the court had rejected his pleas to club together the references. Subsequently, Sharif went to the Islamabad High Court, challenging the trial court’s verdict.
Later, a bench of the IHC granted Sharif’s request with regard to clubbing together the three corruption references filed against him, and revoked the accountability court’s Oct 19 verdict, directing it to reconsider the request.
In his plea, Sharif’s lawyer had argued that the Supreme Court’s July 28 verdict in the Panama Papers case had not asked the NAB to file the references separately. Thus, he added, separate references can not be filed against him, requesting the court to club together all three references.
Maryam Nawaz and her husband Captain (retd) Safdar have been nominated in a single corruption reference in connection with the Sharif family’s London properties.
Ex-PM Nawaz Sharif and his two sons – Hasan and Hussain Nawaz – have been nominated in two references regarding the Aziza Steel Mills, Hill Metals Establishment.
Indictment in three references
On Oct 19, the NAB court indicted deposed PM Nawaz Sharif through his pleader in the three references.
It had also framed charges against his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain (retd) Muhammad Safdar in a reference regarding Avenfield apartments in London.
The charge sheet was read out in the courtroom in presence of Maryam Nawaz, her spouse Capt (r) Safdar, and Sharif’s representative Zafir Khan.
Nawaz, through his representative, Maryam, and Safdar rejected the charges by pleading ‘not guilty’.
According to the charge sheet, Maryam Nawaz was the sole beneficiary of Avenfield apartments in London and she submitted the forged documents with regard to trust deed of the London properties to the Panamagate JIT, using ‘Calibri font’.
It is apropos to mention here that the reference relates to the Avenfield properties (flats 16, 16-A, 17 and 17-A Avenfield House, Park Lane, London, United Kingdom).