Nawaz Sharif,Maryam Nawaz,Captain Safdar indicted by accountability court
19 October, 2017
Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and her husband retired Captain Mohammad Safdar were indicted by an accountability court in Islamabad on Thursday in connection with a reference pertaining to the Avenfield flats filed against them by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
All three accused pleaded not guilty to the charges. Sharif, who is currently in the United Kingdom, and his sons Hassan and Hussain are likely to be indicted in the other two references later today.
The court proceeded with the indictment of the trio after rejecting three applications filed by Sharif, Maryam and Safdar requesting suspension of the indictment.
The court indicted the Sharif family members in the London properties reference today even though Nawaz Sharif and lead defence counsel Khawaja Haris are both out of the country.
Maryam Nawaz while talking to reporters outside the accountability court said one day there would be accountability of the accountability process her family is going through.
"Injustice and atrocities cannot continue together," she said. Maryam said her party is still united despite the differences of opinion. She said the government is an institution which should be respected."Each institution should do its job."
After initially reserving its verdict, the court rejected an application filed by Capt Safdar's counsel Amjad Pervez seeking an adjournment of the indictment proceedings.
The application submitted today argued that Volume X of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report, filed on the directions of the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case, has not been provided to the defendant by the apex court.
It further argued that the statements given by three witnesses to the JIT had not been made public, hence the indictment of Maryam and Safdar should be postponed.
The NAB prosecution argued that Volume X of the JIT report had nothing to do with the indictment and urged the court to indict the accused today.
Meanwhile, the second lawyer from Nawaz Sharif's legal team, Ayesha Hamid, filed an application in the accountability court seeking a delay in her client's indictment.
The application urged the court to delay the indictment until the Supreme Court decides a petition filed by Sharif against the filing of multiple corruption references against him by NAB. The court rejected this application as well.
A third application filed by Nawaz Sharif's counsel, seeking a merger of the three references filed against him. The court has reserved its decision on the application.
Accountability Judge Mohammad Bashir was set to indict Sharif, his daughter Maryam and son-in-law Capt Safdar on Oct 13. However, after a violent clash between the lawyers and police for not permitting the former into the premises of the Federal Judicial Complex (FJC), the court deferred the indictment until today.
On Oct 9, Ahmed, the counsel of Sharif and his daughter, had filed applications seeking an exemption from personal attendance for Sharif and another seeking a 15-day adjournment.
He told the court that the former premier was in London to tend to his ailing wife who was undergoing treatment for lymphoma. He said she was in critical condition and had not recovered despite a third surgery.
The court had exempted Sharif from appearing on October 9, but fixed Oct 13 for his indictment.
The accountability court has also issued directives for Thursday’s hearing. The court had asked for limited presence in the court premises to avoid a situation that emerged in the previous hearing where the lawyers associated with the PML-N protested in the courtroom.
The court directed the prosecution and defence teams, court reporters and the officials accompanying the suspects to keep the number of people inside the court minimum.
PML-N Lawyers Forum has already announced that they would not come to witness the indictment proceeding on Oct 19.
A five-member bench of the Supreme Court on July 28 had directed NAB to file references against Nawaz and his children in six weeks in the accountability court and directed the trial court to decide the references within six months.
The Supreme Court also assigned Justice Ijazul Ahsan a supervisory role to monitor the progress of the accountability court proceedings.
The former premier and his sons, Hassan and Hussain, have been named in all three NAB references, while Maryam and husband Safdar have been named only in the Avenfield reference.