Court reserves verdict on Sharif’s plea for clubbing corruption references
ISLAMABAD: An accountability court on Tuesday reserved its verdict on a request by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to club together three corruption references filed against him and members of his family.
Judge Muhammad Bashir reserved the judgment after National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor and the counsel for Sharif, Khawaja Haris, concluded their arguments on the plea. He is expected to pronounce the verdict during the course of the day.
The former prime minister had filed an application in the trial court, requesting it to conduct a joint trial of all the three references filed against him by the NAB.
Earlier, Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz, and son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar appeared before the court hearing corruption references against them.
This is the second time they jointly appeared before the court since beginning of the trial on September 26. All three members of the Sharif family came to the court in the same car escorted by cavalcade of over 30 vehicles.
Though, the court had exempted them from appearing before it today, but they decided to show up to witness the proceedings.
At the last hearing, NAB deputy prosecutor general had told the court that a bench of Islamabad High Court had passed an order, directing the trial court to rehear the application seeking clubbing together three references.
Haris had pointed out that in case the references are clubbed together, the court will need to frame charges against the Sharif family again.
An Islamabad High Court bench had earlier granted Sharif’s request for clubbing together three corruption references filed against him by NAB, and revoked the trial court’s Oct 19 verdict, directing it to reconsider the case.
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.
Indictment in three references
On Oct 19, the NAB court indicted deposed PM Nawaz Sharif, 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).
Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain (retd) Safdar are nominated in a single corruption reference in connection with 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, and nearly dozen other companies owned by the Sharif family.