Accountability Court rejects Sharif family’s plea to combine arguments, verdict

Accountability Court rejects Sharif family's plea to combine arguments, verdict

ISLAMABAD: The Accountability Court on Tuesday has rejected the plea filed by Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz to club all three references verdict, in Al-Azizia reference case.
Accountability Court Judge Muhammad Bashir resumed the hearing of the case against the plea of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz to combine arguments and verdicts of all three references.
It is pertinent to remember that Al-Azizia reference has been entered into the last phase.
During today’s hearing, the lawyers of the Sharif family and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) began final arguments.
Arguments are being recorded by Khawaja Haris from Nawaz Sharif and advocate Amjad Pervaiz from Maryam Nawaz and Captain Safdar.
On the other hand, Deputy Prosecutor General NAB Sardar Muzafar will also record his argument.
The court will reserve the verdict after the arguments completed.
Nawaz and his family members are facing three corruption references in the accountability court — Avenfield Properties, Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Flagship Investments — in which they are accused of money laundering, tax evasion and hiding offshore assets.
“You may challenge this verdict in the high court,” remarked Accountability Judge Muhammad Bashir after dismissing the petition. He added that till that time the cross-examination of Zia will continue.
Moreover, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi, while presenting closing arguments in Avenfield properties case, remarked that the Supreme Court had ordered for the references to be wrapped up in the next six months, adding that there was also a deadline to file the references.
“Nawaz was declared ineligible after the July 28 verdict of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The suspects were indicted on October 19, 2017, while supplementary reference was filed on January 22, 2018,” he pointed out.
“So far, statements of 18 witnesses have been recorded in the Avenfield reference,” he said, adding that the prosecution didn’t take back the name of any witness. “The suspects have failed to prove their innocence in the case.”
Earlier, Hashmi, who submitted the petition on Nawaz’s behalf seeking closing arguments in all the three references to be heard together, remarked that the National Accountability Bureau’s claims that the facts in all three references are different are “incorrect”.
“NAB brought Gulf Steel Mills, Qatari letter in all the references,” he said, adding that the witnesses in the references are also the same.
“The final arguments should be postponed till Wajid Zia and investigating officer record their statements in remaining two references,” the petition states.
All three references have been formed on the basis of Panamagate Joint Investigation Team report, which was ordered by the apex court to probe assets of the Sharif family, Hashmi added.
On Monday’s hearing, the court had directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi to submit final arguments in London properties reference today and postponed the cross-examination of Wajid Zia till June 11.
However, Nawaz’s legal counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed had announced to challenge the court’s decision regarding final arguments. “If you will announce the verdict in one reference then transfer the two other references to another court,” he said, adding “How can you hear the remaining two cases if you announce the verdict in one case?”
Haris remarked: “It would’ve been better if all three references were heard together.”
Responding to this, the NAB prosecutor pointed out that the arguments in all three references cannot be heard together. “The defense counsel had misled the court and is now engaging in delay tactics,” he said.
Accountability judge Muhammad Bashir then inquired when will Khawaja Haris complete the cross-examination of Wajid Zia, to which he responded: “will try to complete it by Tuesday”.
The judge then postponed the cross-examination till June 11.

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