ISLAMABAD: An accountability court on Friday (today) abruptly adjourned the hearing of three graft references against the Sharif family members and fixed Oct 19, a new date, for the indictment after PML-N lawyers staged a protest inside the courtroom.
Judge Muhammad Bashir this morning adjourned the hearing soon after the proceedings began when the PML-N lawyers forced their way into the courtroom and surrounded the judge.
“Islamabad High Court has allowed lawyers to witness court proceedings, be it the accountability court since it is an open court,” the lawyers claimed.
These voices echoed the courtroom following a scuffle broke out between the federal police and PML-N lawyers outside the court premises.
Chaotic atmosphere inside court room
The judge then adjourned the hearing amid the chaotic atmosphere and set Oct 19 for the indictment of the Sharif family members.
The ruling party’s lawyers were trying to enter the court premises to witness the proceedings when they were denied an entry by police in wake of stringent security measures, this led to a brawl with security guards.
According to police officials, they had been given a task to deny entry to any unwarranted person into the court room other than the prosecutor and Sharif family members.
The security measures were taken to ward off any untoward incident, the officials added.
NAB officials harassed
The anti-graft watchdog officials claimed to be manhandled by the lawyers inside the courtroom. The head of NAB prosecution team, Sardar Muzaffar, was pushed and shoved during the incident.
Maryam, Capt (r) Safdar arrival at court
Earlier today, Maryam Nawaz and her spouse Capt Safdar had separately arrived at the court amid tight security and extensive protocol for the hearing of a graft reference. She was accompanied by ministers and senior PML-N leaders.
The court had set Oct 13 for the indictment of former PM Nawaz Sharif and his children. Given to the situation the judge abruptly adjourned the hearing and announced the new date for framing charges against Sharifs.
Sharif and his sons have been nominated in all three references, while Maryam and her husband have been named only in a reference related to the family’s London flats.
Talking to ARY News, Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) leader Sherry Rehman and Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rasheed said it is apparent with today’s incident that the ruling party is employing delay tactics against the graft proceedings.
Capt Safdar’s plea to defer indictment
On Thursday, retired captain Muhammad Safdar, the son-in-law of the former prime minister, approached the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against his and wife Maryam Nawaz’s scheduled indictment in a graft reference.
Safdar through his counsel filed a petition in the high court, requesting it to restrain a trial court from indicting him and his wife on Oct 13 (today).
After a preliminary hearing, a bench of the IHC disposed of the petition for being non-maintainable. It allowed the trial court to frame charges against the petitioner and his wife.
In the last hearing, the court had declared Hasan and Hussain Nawaz – Nawaz Sharif’s sons – as absconders, besides approving the bail of Maryam and Safdar after they appeared in court.
The court had also granted bail to Safdar against a surety bond of Rs5 million and ordered his release.
He was taken into custody by NAB shortly after he landed at Benazir Bhutto International Airport along with his wife Maryam in the early hours of Monday morning.
The judge rejected the request of Nawaz Sharif’s counsel to adjourn the cases for two weeks so that his client could return from London and appear before it. He set Oct 13 for his, Maryam and Safdar’s indictment.
Advocate Khawaja Harris told the judge that Sharif couldn’t appear because he is in London, taking care of his ailing wife Kulsoom Nawaz.
The court declared Hussain and Hassan absconders after their perpetual absence from proceedings.
The NAB prosecutor requested the judge to initiate proceedings to declare the absconding accused as proclaimed offenders and order attachment of their properties, arguing that they did not want to join proceedings.
Maryam and her spouse returned to Pakistan to appear in accountability court in connection with a reference related to the Sharif family’s flats in a posh London neighbourhood.