Nawaz’s lawyer says similarities in references warrant case transfer


–Khawaja Haris tells IHC new judge should hear remaining cases against Sharifs’ to ensure ‘fair, impartial trial’


ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s counsel Khawaja Haris on Thursday concluded his arguments in the petition to transfer the Al-Azizia and Flagship references against his client to another accountability court, submitting that there were similarities in the three references due to which the cases should be heard by any other judge except Muhammad Bashir.

Nawaz and other family members have also filed petitions against their convictions in the Avenfield reference in the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

As the two-member bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb began the hearing, Haris resumed presenting his arguments.

He pleaded that for an impartial and fair trial, a fresh judge needs to be assigned to hear the remaining corruption cases against his client.

With regards to impartiality of judges, Justice Farooq wondered if a judge who has remained an anti-smoking advocate can preside over a case involving smoking.

Presenting his arguments, Haris claimed that Nawaz has nothing to do with any properties mentioned in the corruption references, adding that Nawaz’s children were dependents of their their grandfather and not Nawaz.

During the hearing, the court directed Haris to present the similarities of the three cases, including common witnesses and defence, by laying it out in a chart form.

Laying out the similarities, Haris contended that Nawaz’s speech in Parliament and address to the nation is a common piece of evidence in all three cases.

Similarly, Haris stated that the sources of income chart in Volume IX of the JIT report, as well as Hussain and Hasan Nawaz’s interviews are common pieces of evidence.

As Nawaz’s counsel concluded his arguments, the hearing was adjourned until Monday.

At the last hearing on Tuesday, Haris had pleaded to shift the trial of the remaining corruption references to another court.

Haris had argued that Accountability Court-I Judge Muhammad Bashir has already disclosed his mind by punishing his client in the Avenfield reference.

On the court’s query, Nawaz’s counsel had also stated that the investigation officers in all three references are different whereas the witnesses and their defence is common.

After hearing Nawaz’s petition to transfer the two remaining references to another court, the two-member bench will take up the Sharif family’s pleas against their convictions in the Avenfield reference.

On July 6, an accountability court had sentenced Nawaz to a total of 11 years in prison and slapped a £8 million fine (Rs1.3 billion) in the corruption reference, while his daughter Maryam was sentenced to eight years with a £2 million fine (Rs335 million). Nawaz’s son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar was also given a one-year sentence without any fine.

The Sharifs had challenged their convictions in the IHC, highlighting the legal flaws in the Avenfield judgement and asking for the accountability court’s verdict to be declared null and void and the three convicts to be released on bail.

An additional appeal was also filed requesting the court to transfer the Al-Azizia and Flagship Investment references against Nawaz from the court of Accountability Judge-I Mohammad Bashir to another accountability court.