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Accountability court sought another extension for Nawaz Sharif

26 August, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: An accountability court has sought yet another extension to conclude two pending references against ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Judge Mohammad Arshad Malik on Friday submitted a written request to the Supreme Court seeking the fifth extension in the trial of Mr Sharif.

Earlier on July 6, accountability judge Mohammad Bashir convicted Mr Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz, and son-in-law retired Captain Mohammad Safdar in the Avenfield properties reference.

On July 28 last year, the Supreme Court while accepting the petition filed by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan and other political rivals of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader had removed Mr Sharif from the office of prime minister and directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to file three references against the Sharif family.

Subsequently, NAB in September that year filed three references — Avenfield properties, Al-Azizia and Flagship Investment — against the ex-premier.

Currently, Judge Bashir is conducting trial in the Al-Azizia and Flagship references. The Supreme Court has directed the accountability court to conclude the trial within six months.

Earlier in March, the apex court extended the timeframe of the trial proceedings till May then granted one month extension twice. After the conviction of Mr Sharif and his children, the apex court set another deadline of Aug 25 for the accountability court to conclude the pending references.

In the meantime, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) transferred the case to Justice Malik who has summoned star prosecution witness Wajid Zia on Aug 27 for cross-examination in the Al-Azizia case after which the court has scheduled to record his statement in the Flagship Investment reference.

The accountability judge Justice Mohammad Bashir had discarded the money trail of the Sharif family for Avenfield properties and held that these assets were beyond known sources of income. The court awarded Mr Sharif 10 years’, Maryam seven and Capt Safdar a year’s imprisonment. The same court, however, acquitted the ex-premier of the charge related to acquiring these assets through corrupt practices, illegal or dishonest means.

The Sharif family has challenged the conviction before the IHC. The bench — comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb — has also heard the petitions seeking suspension of the sentence against Mr Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Capt Safdar.

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