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National

July 11, 2018

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References against Nawaz family: Supreme Court gives accountability court 6 more weeks

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday gave another six-week extension to the Accountability Court (AC) to conclude references filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his family and former finance minister Ishaq Dar.

A two-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan, heard an application moved by AC Judge Muhammad Bashir, seeking extension for wrapping up the references filed against Sharif family.

Akbar Tarar, Additional Prosecutor General National Accountability Bureau and Khwaja Haris, counsel for Sharif family appeared before the court.

On a court query, Akbar Tarar submitted that the AC required four weeks time extension for concluding the remaining three references.

The three remaining references, he said, one each against the Sharif family's Flagship Investments and Al Azizia Steel Mills, and one reference against Dar, were among four filed by the anti-graft body in pursuance of the apex court’s order passed last year in Panamagate judgment. He submitted that there were 18 witnesses in the Flagship Investments reference, out of which 14 had already recorded their statements in court while two witnesses were yet to be cross-questioned.

CJP Mian Saqib Nisar said that they had also summoned Dar in a case regarding his eligibility to hold a seat in the Senate, but he had failed to appear so far. The chief justice asked the NAB additional prosecutor general as to whether the court can award sentence in the absence of the accused.

It is pertinent to mention here that the AC led by Judge Muhammad Bashir on last Friday awarded 10 years imprisonment to former prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif, 7 years imprisonment to his daughter Maryam Safdar and one year to Captain ® Safdar in Avenfield corruption reference.

The court also imposed fines of £8 million and £2 million on the father and daughter respectively.

Meanwhile, Khwaja Haris, counsel for Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday also raised objections over AC Judge Mohammad Bashir, who had announced the verdict in the Avenfield reference.

The counsel contended that as the witnesses and evidence in the remaining references are similar, the judge's verdict will probably be the same as the one pronounced in the Avenfield reference.

He said as the judge had already given a verdict in the Avenfield reference hence the same judge should recuse himself from the two other references.

He recalled that he had filed an appeal, praying for clubbing all the corruption references filed against his client for being similar; however, he contended that the Accountability Court had rejected the appeal.

At this Justice Ijazul Ahsen said that witnesses in the Flagship Investments and Al Azizia references were different and there was no similarity between the two remaining references.

Justice Ijazul Ahsen inquired from the counsel as to how can a judge who had been conducting the proceedings and recording witnesses in each reference be changed.

Meanwhile, the court granted six more weeks to the Accountability Court for concluding the remaining references and held that Khwaja Haris can approach the relevant forum for raising objections over the said judge.

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