–Accountability court approves ousted PM’s request for exemption from personal appearance from Dec 5 till 12th
ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday dismissed the petition filed by ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif seeking the merging of corruption references filed against him and his children by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), as the accountability court hearing the graft cases approved Nawaz’s request for exemption from personal appearance from Dec 5 till 12th.
In a short order read out by Justice Aamer Farooq of the IHC, the court rejected Nawaz’s plea seeking a joint trial in three references pertaining to the Avenfield properties, Flagship Investments and Al-Azizia Steel Mills.
Earlier in the day, the accountability court adjourned the hearing for a brief period after Nawaz’s counsel Khawaja Harris requested the court to delay the proceedings as the IHC was expected to announce its verdict on the petition filed by his client seeking the consolidation of the three cases.
When the hearing resumed in the afternoon, Nawaz and his daughter Maryam Nawaz filed applications seeking a change in dates already approved by the court for exemption from personal appearances.
The court accepted Nawaz’s plea, however Judge Mohammad Bashir dismissed Maryam’s request, stating that the court’s earlier ruling on the matter will prevail. The court had allowed Maryam to be exempted from appearance from Nov 15 until Dec 15.
The hearing was then adjourned until Tuesday.
As the hearing began on Monday morning, Nawaz, accompanied by Maryam and his son-in-law MNA Capt (r) Muhammad Safdar, appeared before the court.
Judge Bashir directed NAB witness Malik Tayyab Ahmed to record his statement. Ahmed, an employee of a private bank, also presented details of Nawaz’s bank accounts and transactions.
The court also declared Hassan and Hussain Nawaz absconders as witnesses began recording statements against them under Section 512 of the NAB Ordinance.
The NAB prosecutor told the court that neither of the brothers possess any property and their bank accounts had already been frozen.
On Nov 24, the high court had reserved its judgement on the petition seeking clubbing of the references filed against the former premier and his close relatives.
Nawaz’s lawyer had argued before a two-member bench of the high court that similarities had been noted between the references and sought the consolidation of at least two references ─ Azizia Steel Mills and Flagship Investment references.
The lawyer pointed out that the references list the same three individuals as accused and added that six out of 13 witnesses in both references were also the same.