IHC postpones hearing of Nawaz’s plea seeking suspension of jail sentence

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IHC

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday postponed the hearing of a petition seeking suspension of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s ­jail sentence in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills/Hill Metals Establishment reference.
Accountability Judge Mohammad Arshad Malik had on Dec 24, 2018 convicted Sharif in the Al-Azizia reference and awarded him seven years imprisonment, besides imposing fines of Rs1.5 billion and $25 million on the PML-N quaid.
The ex-prime minister’s legal team comprising lead defence counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed, Barrister Munawwar Duggal, Zubair Khalid and others had last week filed the petition as well as an appeal against Sharif’s conviction in the Al-Azizia reference.
A two-judge bench headed by IHC Chief Justice Ather Minallah today decided to indefinitely postpone the matter as the petition cannot be heard unless the appeal is set for hearing. The petition will be taken up when a date is set for the hearing of the appeal.
Defence lawyer Khawaja Haris insisted that the court hear the case as the appeal has been fixed for hearing after the court holidays, which end tomorrow.
Last week, the IHC Registrar’s Office had raised some administrative objections to the petition as the legal team submitted with it over 4,000 documents, including papers in foreign languages. Some documents were not readable due to which the petition was fixed for hearing after a delay.
A defence lawyer on Saturday removed these objections after which the Registrar’s Office fixed the case for a preliminary hearing.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has also filed appeals in the IHC seeking enhancement of Sharif’s sentence from seven to 14 years. Additionally, the watchdog has challenged Sharif’s acquittal in the Flagship Investment reference.

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