Witness records statement as corruption hearing against Nawaz, family resumes

Witness records statement as corruption hearing against Nawaz, family resumes

ISLAMABAD: The accountability court hearing corruption references against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family has resumed its proceedings after adjourning for a brief period earlier today.

As the hearing began Monday morning, Nawaz, accompanied by his daughter Maryam, appeared in court. Nawaz's son-in-law, MNA Capt (retd) Safdar, also appeared before the court.

The hearing was adjourned after Nawaz's counsel, Khawaja Harris, informed the judge that the Islamabad High Court (IHC) will announce around noon today its decision on their plea to club the three corruption references against Nawaz.

Harris pleaded the court to adjourn the hearing until the high court's decision. Judge Mohammad Bashir then adjourned the hearing until 1pm today.

The hearing then resumed following the IHC order rejecting Nawaz's pleas. As the hearing began once more, Harris informed the judge that Nawaz will appear in court in a couple of hours.

The judge then directed NAB witness Tayyab Ahmed to begin recording his statement.

Ahmed is an employee of a private bank.

Talking to reporters after leaving the courtroom in the morning, Nawaz quipped that it seems he will face punishment for the disqualification case against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leaders Imran Khan and Jahangir Tareen.

Nawaz is facing three corruption references in the accountability court filed by NAB in light of the Supreme Court's July 28 verdict in the Panama Papers case which led to his disqualification.

Nawaz and his sons Hussain and Hasan are named in all three references whereas Maryam and Safdar are only named in one corruption reference.

At the last hearing on November 28, the court had not conducted any proceedings due to the absence of the defence counsel.

Nawaz, Maryam and Safdar had, however, appeared before the court.

IHC verdict on Nawaz’s plea today

The IHC will announce its verdict today on Nawaz's plea to club the NAB references against him today.

The accountability court on November 8 had again dismissed Nawaz's plea seeking the clubbing of three references into one, which was later challenged in the IHC.

At the hearing on November 20, Nawaz's lawyer pointed out similarities between the Azizia Steel Mills and Flagship Investment references, pleading that they be combined.

Nawaz's counsel Azam Nazir Tarar argued before the two-member bench that the accountability court had noted the similarities between the references.

The lawyer told the bench that the accountability court had decided against clubbing the three references ─ Avenfield, Azizia Steel Mills and Flagship Investment ─ without waiting for the IHC verdict on the matter.

The bench then reserved its decision after hearing NAB's version on the matter.

On November 14, the IHC had sent notices to NAB on the petition.

Nawaz's petition pleads the IHC to direct the accountability court “to frame one charge and conduct a single trial” against the Sharif family in the three corruption references.