Islamabad (November 8, 2017): The Accountability Court expected to announce the verdict on Nawaz Sharif petition related to merge all three references against him into one for single trial Today.
The accountability court hearing NAB references against Sharif family on Tuesday reserved its verdict on an application of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif seeking to club together all the three references against him and held a single trial.
The judge of the accountability court Muhammad Bashir took up the application of Nawaz Sharif seeking the court to club all the three references against him as per the directives of Islamabad High court.
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The court did not hear the main case against the Sharif family, rather heard the application of the former premier, which it had earlier rejected, seeking to club all the references against him on the directives of IHC.
The court after hearing the arguments of Sharif counsel Khuwaja Harris and NAB persecutors reserved the verdict. The court adjourned further hearing till tomorrow.
Earlier, when the lead defence counsel Khuwaja Harris completed his arguments on the application for clubbing the references, the court went into recess for 15 minutes, allowing Nawaz, Maryam and Safdar to leave the court.While arguing for the consolidation of the three corruption references, Haris read out the charge-sheets from the corruption cases. He said the charges levelled against the Sharifs were common in all three references.
The counsel said that nine and 13 witnesses have been named in the Flagship Investment Ltd reference and Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference, respectively. Six witnesses are common in both references and three are common with those of Avenfield flats reference, he observed.If the same witness is allowed to testify in multiple references, he or she will get time to prepare as they would know what questions the defence counsel is likely to ask and they might alter their statement accordingly, he argued.
Haris pleaded that while three references could remain, a single trial should be held against the accused. If they are found guilty after trial of the central reference, one sentence should be announced.
He said the court had the authority to continue with the proceedings after merging the references, adding that under the law, an accused could not be punished for a crime multiple times.
When the court resumed the hearing after the break, NAB prosecutor started his arguments. He opposed Nawaz application seeking to club the references together. He pointed out that IHC did not order the court to club together the references rather asked to re-hear the application.Sharif had arrived in the country from London to appear before the accountability court last Friday.
However, the hearing against Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law had adjourned after an order passed the previous day by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) regarding the clubbing of three references against the Sharif family could not be procured by the court in time.At the outset of the proceedings on Friday, Judge Mohammad Bashir said he had read in a newspaper that the IHC had ordered clubbing of three corruption references.
At this, NAB deputy prosecutor general Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi said the IHC had not passed such an order, but remanded the matter to the accountability court again.
After receiving the IHC short order issued on Nawaz Sharif’s petitions seeking a joint trial of all the three references, the judge then read out the order sheet, according to which the accountability court was asked to examine the matter in the light of Section 17-D.The section reads: “A person accused of more offenses than one of the same kind…may be charged with and tried at one trial for any number of such offenses.”
Haris, the counsel for Sharif, argued that in case the references were clubbed together, the court would need to indict Sharif, Maryam and Safdar again.
It is to be mentioned here that a five-member bench of the Supreme Court on July 28 had directed NAB to file references against Nawaz and his children in six weeks in the accountability court and directed the trial court to decide the references within six months.
The Supreme Court also assigned Justice Ijazul Ahsan a supervisory role to monitor the progress of the accountability court proceedings.NAB had filed three references on Sept 8 against Sharif and his family, and another reference against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. The three references against the Sharif family are related to the Flagship Investment Ltd, the Avenfield (London) properties and Jeddah-based Al-Azizia Company and Hill Metal Establishment.
The former premier and his sons, Hassan and Hussain, have been named in all three NAB references, while Maryam and husband Safdar have been named only in the Avenfield reference.