NAB opposes combining of references against Sharifs as court reserves verdict

  • Nawaz Sharif’s lawyer says while three references could remain, a single trial should be held against the accused
  • NAB prosecutor says every case has its own facts therefore they should be treated separately


ISLAMABAD: The accountability court on Tuesday reserved its judgement on a petition to club corruption references against the Sharif family till Wednesday, as the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor opposed the combining of the three references stating that the trial cannot be merged into a single case on the application of just one accused.

In a break from tradition, all three members of the Sharif family – ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain (r) Muhammad Safdar arrived at the court in the same car on Tuesday. The motorcade carrying the trio comprised 30 vehicles.

The court heard arguments from Sharif’s counsel Khawaja Harris and NAB prosecutor about merging the three corruption references against the accused.

While arguing for the consolidation of the three corruption references, Harris read out the charge-sheets from the corruption cases. He said the charges levelled against the Sharifs are common in all three references. The references relate to different assets but all three name the same persons as accused.

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 said.

Harris 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 added.

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.

The counsel said several paras of the three references are common but none of the references state the allegations against the accused.

He claimed that the Supreme Court-sanctioned Joint Investigation Report had stated that the London flats were owned by the Sharif family but it did not directly name any individuals.

The references state that Sharif’s sons, Hassan and Hussain, had no sources of income until 2001, but they are silent on who is the real owner of the London properties.

He said multiple trials conducted on the same charges would not be transparent.

Giving references of past cases, the counsel said the court had merged 49 references in the NATO containers case.

Nawaz Sharif had arrived in the country from London amid VIP protocol to appear before the accountability court last Friday.

However, the hearing against Nawaz, Maryam and Safdar 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.

NAB prosecutor Wasiq Malik argued against the petition to club the three references, saying every case has its own facts.

He said the primary benamidar (front man) in the Flagship Investment Ltd reference is Hassan Nawaz while that in Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference is Hussain Nawaz.

The references were separated due to different crimes and transactions but the primary accused is common in all three references, he said.

Each accused has an individual role in each asset and in the Al Azizia reference, the prosecutor said. He said that while only one transaction came to Pakistan in the Flagship reference, multiple transactions came to the country in Al Azizia reference.

He argued that while the witnesses are indeed common in three references, they have to provide different documents for the case record.

Malik further said the cases could not be merged on the application of a single accused (Nawaz) when two accused (Hassan and Hussain) have not joined the proceedings.

The ousted PM and his family face three corruption references filed against them by NAB on the orders of the apex court, which had disqualified Nawaz in its July 28 Panama Papers verdict.

On Monday, NAB was working to turn two persons into approvers against the Sharif family and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in the ongoing accountability cases.

According to reports, Javed Kayani and Saeed Ahmad were on the verge of becoming approvers. One official also revealed that they had both already agreed. Issues relating to approvers are at the discretion of the NAB chairman.


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