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Accountability court issued bailable arrest warrants against Nawaz Sharif

27 October, 2017

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Accountability court issued bailable arrest warrants against Nawaz SharifISLAMABAD: The accountability court on Thursday issued bailable arrest warrants against ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif for failing to appear before it in two graft references filed against him by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) following the Supreme Court’s July 28 orders in the Panama Papers case.

In the third reference pertaining to Avenfield properties in London, judge Muhammad Bashir issued notice to guarantor of the ousted premier to explain why he did not turn up.

In the Avenfield reference, Nawaz Sharif had furnished a surety bond of Rs 5 million, whereas no surety bond was submitted in references relating to Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Flagship Investment Ltd. The court gave Sharif last chance to ensure his appearance on November 3, otherwise his non-bailable warrants will be issued.

Accepting NAB’s prosecutor request, the court rejected application by Nawaz Sharif, filed by his senior counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmad, seeking exemption from personal appearance before the court owing to his engagements with his ailing wife, who is undergoing treatment of lymphoma at a medical facility in London.

When court resumed the hearing, Khawaja Haris pleaded that his client may be exempted from personal appearance for further 15 days owing to his engagements with his ailing spouse. He stated that Zaafir Khan Tareen would represent Nawaz Sharif as his pleader during the period of exemption from personal appearance. NAB’s prosecutor, however, opposed the plea contending that he was supposed to appear on Thursday, as the exemption period of 15 days granted to him earlier stood expired.

The prosecutor also pleaded the court to issue warrants against Sharif under the law as he had failed to appear despite court orders. The court accepted the plea and issued his bailable warrants in two graft reference pertaining to Azizia Steel Mills and Flagship Investment Ltd.

During the proceedings, Khawaja Haris told the court that he has challenged the indictment of his client before the Islamabad High Court, which is scheduled to hear the matter on November 2. “You must plead the case of your client,” the court said, and adjourned the hearing till November 3.

Ousted premier’s daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (r) Safdar also appeared in the Avenfield reference, in which both of them have already been indicted. Amjad Pervez, counsel for Nawaz Sharif’s children Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz, who have been declared proclaimed offenders by the court, was also present in courtroom. The court had to record the statements of first two prosecution witnesses of NAB, Sidra Mansoor, an official of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, and Jahangir Ahmad, an official of the Federal Board of Revenue, however their statements were not recorded.

During the hearing, Nawaz Sharif’s political aides Senator Pervaiz Rasheed, Senator Asif Kirmani, Privatisation Minister Daniyal Aziz and Minister of State for Interior Talal Chaudhry were present inside the courtroom.

Amid strict security arrangements, a number of lawyers and PML-N workers were not allowed entry into the judicial complex, as their names did not exist on the list provided to the security personnel deputed at the entry point.

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