–Judge Malik writes to SC, seeks fifth extension in deadline to conclude two remaining corruption references against former PM, his sons
ISLAMABAD: The accountability court hearing corruption references against the Sharif family on Saturday sought another extension from the Supreme Court (SC) to conclude the trials in the Al-Azizia and Flagship Investments cases.
The deadline for the conclusion of proceedings in the graft references has expired without a fresh extension from the apex court. Therefore, the court has sought its fifth extension from the apex court to conclude the trials.
Judge Muhammad Arshad Malik has written a letter to the top court requesting more time in the trial of ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who is currently imprisoned at the Adiala Jail, and his two absconding sons, Hassan and Hussain Nawaz.
The court has summoned head of the SC-appointed Joint Investigation Team (JIT) in Panama case, Wajid Zia for cross-examination in the two references on Monday.
The court is yet to record statements of Wajid Zia and the investigation officer in the Flagship reference while the investigation officer in Al-Azizia reference has partially recorded his statement. Zia’s cross-examination would continue from Monday as, on previous hearing, the judge expressed that he intended to hear both the reference side by side and conclude them in one go.
Following Zia and investigation officers’ statements and cross-examination, the accused standing trial would record his statement and then the prosecution and defence would present arguments and give a rebuttal, if required.
The accused, meanwhile, can also bring witnesses in his defence once he finishes recording statement. Once the remaining witnesses record their statements, defence counsel concludes cross-examination, prosecution and defence finish presenting arguments and rebuttals, the court would reserve judgment in the cases.
It should be noted that the anti-graft body had filed three references against the Sharif family in line with the top court’s verdict in Panama Papers case. On July 6, the Accountability Court Judge Muhammad Bashir, who was earlier hearing the references, concluded the Avenfield Apartments reference and awarded Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo 10 years’ imprisonment, seven years to his daughter Maryam Nawaz and two years to his son-in-law Captain (r) Safdar.
Following the sentence, the jailed ex-PM requested the Islamabad High Court to transfer the pending references against him to any other court as Judge Bashir has already disclosed his mind on the common questions of law in the three references. The request was allowed and references – Al-Aziziz & Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship and other companies – were recently transferred to Judge Malik. The NAB has named Sharif and his sons in all three references while Maryam and Captain (retd) Safdar were named only in the Avenfield Apartments reference.
The top court had initially granted a two-month extension to the AC to wrap up the proceedings. When the references could not be completed in the stipulated time, the apex court had granted one more month to decide the references but it could not happen despite day-to-day marathon hearings.
Subsequently, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar had granted one more month’s extension with directions to concluded “reference/references” by July 10. In compliance, the trial court concluded London flats reference on July 6. Later, the apex court had granted six weeks’ time to conclude the remaining references but once again the stipulated time has lapsed and the court has asked for more time.
In July 2017, the Supreme Court disqualified ex-PM Nawaz Sharif from holding public office over failure to disclose his ‘un-withdrawn receivables, constituting assets’ in his nomination papers filed ahead of the 2013 general elections.
The disqualification was reasoned on the documents submitted by the JIT which showed that the former PM had been an employee of a Dubai-based firm, Capital FZE, and as chairman of its board on a salary.