ISLAMABAD: The accountability court on Monday hearing the graft references against Sharif family has issued arrest warrants for Sharif in two references — the Avenfield flats reference and the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment reference and subsequently, adjourned the hearing till November 3.
Maryam Nawaz, the former prime minister’s daughter, and her husband MNA Capt (r) Safdar reached the accountability court separately on Thursday in connection with the graft reference that has been filed against them by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
As the accountability court hearing in the corruption references against former premier Nawaz Sharif and his family went underway, Sharif’s counsel Khawaja Harris pleaded before Accountability Judge Mohammad Bashir that Nawaz should be exempted from appearing in court owing to his wife’s illness. The judge has reserved his decision on the plea.
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif skipped Thursday’s court hearing, as he continues to remains outside Pakistan.
Two prosecution witnesses National Accountability Bureau, one from the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and the other from the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) were to record their statements during Thursday’s court proceedings.
A heavy contingency of police and paramilitary personnel were guarding the court premises where about 400 security personnel were present.
Moreover, Nawaz’s political aides, Senators Asif Kirmani and Pervaiz Rasheed, State Interior Minister Talal Chaudhry, Federal Privatisation Minister Daniyal Aziz and other party officials were also present inside the court along with media personnel and NAB officials.
A number of lawyers and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz members were not allowed entry into the courtroom since their names were not on the security officials’list.
Nawaz continues to remain in Saudi Arabia, contrary to the earlier reports that stated that he was expected to arrive in Pakistan from Saudi Arabia on Wednesday night to attend the court hearing scheduled on Thursday.
As per reports, ousted PM on Wednesday met some members of the Saudi royal family, and in view of those meetings, Nawaz had decided to extend his stay in Saudi Arabia.
During the earlier hearing on October 19, Nawaz who had been represented by his legal representative Zafir Khan in his absence was indicted in the Avenfield properties case alongside Maryam and Safdar.
Nawaz had also been indicted in the two other references pertaining to Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metals Establishment and Flagship Companies Ltd and other offshore companies
The accountability court is hearing graft cases filed by NAB in light of the Supreme Court’s order on July 28 in the Panama Papers case.
The references against the Sharif family pertain to the Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metals Establishment, their London properties and over dozen offshore companies owned by the family.
NAB’s Rawalpindi branch prepared two references regarding the Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metals Establishment, and the nearly dozen companies owned by the Sharif family.
Its Lahore branch prepared a reference on the Sharif family’s Avenfield apartments in London and another against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for owning assets beyond his known sources of income.
If convicted, the accused may face up to 14 years imprisonment and lifelong disqualification from holding public office including the freezing of bank accounts and assets.