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Wednesday Nov 22, 2017, Rabi-al-awwal 3, 1439 Hijri
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NAB dismissed plea by Nawaz Sharif in three references

09 November, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: The accountability court on Wednesday dismissed a plea by ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif seeking to club all three graft references filed against him by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) following the Supreme Court’s July 28, 2017 verdict in the Panama Papers case.

Judge Muhammad Bashir formally indicted Nawaz Sharif in his presence in all the three references separately and got his signs on the copies of the indictment orders.

Earlier, owing to his absence on account of his ailing wife, who is undergoing treatment of lymphoma in London, Nawaz Sharif was indicted in graft references through his pleader (legal representative) Zaafir Khan on October 19 and 20 respectively. The court dismissed Sharif’s plea of clubbing the references through a short verbal order, saying that the details reasons will be recorded later on.

The decision on Sharif’s plea seeking to club the references was reserved on Tuesday. The plea was earlier dismissed by the accountability court without giving reasons, against which Sharif had moved the Islamabad High Court (IHC), which directed the accountability court to rehear the plea and give the verdict afresh.

Before indicting in all the references, Sharif was called by the court to the rostrum. When the judge read out the charge-sheet, Sharif rejected all the charges against him and pleaded not guilty, saying that his right to a fair trial as well as his fundamental rights guaranteed in the constitution were denied, infringed and not protected, which was a matter of concern. He stated that the references filed against him were politically motivated and based on malafide intentions. To a court query, he said he had received the copies of the indictment orders. He stated that since the Supreme Court had directed the trial court to conclude the trail in all the four references (three against Nawaz Sharif and his children and one against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar) in six months, the proceedings were being conducted ‘in haste’.

He said in light of the Supreme Court’s orders, the trial court would wrap up proceedings in each reference in one and a half month to conclude the trial.

“To conclude the trail in time, all the three references against Sharif would be heard concurrently,” the court, however, noted.

Khawaja Haris, counsel for Nawaz Sharif, told the court that the Supreme Court in its detailed verdict released on Tuesday on the review plea of his client, has held that the time limit of six months to conclude the trail of the references could be extended if needed.

He pleaded the court to allow the pleader, Zaafir Khan, to appear on behalf of Sharif if he fails to appear due to any emergency. The court asked Khawaja Haris to submit his request in writing, adding that Zaafir Khan would also have to submit the request, to represent Sharif, in writing.

The court directed the NAB prosecutor to produce prosecution witnesses Sidra Mansoor, an official of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, and Jahangir Ahmad, an official of the Federal Board of Revenue, on the next hearing. Later, the court adjourned the hearing till November 15.

Meanwhile, after hearing the arguments of Amjad Pervez, counsel for Maryam Nawaz and her husband Capt (r) Safdar, and NAB’s prosecutor, the court also partially accepted the application of Maryam and Safdar seeking removal of the contents carrying ‘Calibri font’ in the graft reference, which led to their indictment.

The court held that the paragraph pertaining to the Calibri font will remain the part of indictment, however Section 3-A of the NAB law, which prescribes punishment for the alleged crime, will be removed. The court also held that the issue will be taken up when it comes before it on next stages.

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