–Court to indict ousted premier on Oct 9, issues non-bailable arrest warrants for his sons, son-in-law
–PML-N ministers, media personnel barred by Rangers personnel from attending accountability court’s hearing
–Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal threatens to resign over Rangers’ ‘unauthorised’ deployment
ISLAMABAD: The accountability court hearing three corruption references against the Sharif family on Monday delayed the indictment of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif till October 9, while issuing non-bailable arrest warrants for his sons and son-in-law.
Meanwhile, the bailable arrest warrants for Sharif’s daughter, Maryam, remain standing. However the court has ordered her presence at the next hearing on Oct 9.
The judge also warned that he will issue red warrants for Sharif’s sons and son-in-law if they do not appear in court at the next hearing. In response, Sharif’s counsel Khawaja Harris said that his client’s children are busy tending to their mother in London and will appear in court once she is better.
Harris argued that all of the accused in the case have to appear in court before an indictment can take place.
Sharif, his children — Hussain, Hassan and Maryam, and son-in-law Captain (r) Muhammad Safdar are now expected to appear in court on Oct 9 and be indicted in the corruption cases.
The former premier left the court soon after the hearing.
Addressing reporters later, Mohsin Ranjha, a member of Sharif’s legal team, said they had assured the court that Maryam and her husband Safdar will appear in court at the next hearing.
He added that Nawaz Sharif had sought exemption from personal appearance at the hearings citing security concerns, however the court had reserved its decision in this regard saying the matter will be decided once the indictment has taken place.
PML-N LEADERS & MEDIA BARRED FROM ATTENDING HEARING:
Earlier in the day, around 2,000 personnel of the Islamabad police and Rangers had been deployed in and around the judicial complex in Sector G-11 where the accountability court is located.
The former premier arrived at the judicial complex around 8.30am in a large convoy of vehicles, however security personnel allowed only Sharif’s vehicle to enter the premises.
This resulted in a delay of other hearings scheduled inside the complex, as lawyers and litigants were also barred from entering the courts.
It was said that unlike the last hearing — during which Finance Minister Ishaq Dar was indicted — media personnel will be permitted to witness the proceedings. However, no one — including the senior Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leadership — was allowed to enter the complex.
After waiting outside for nearly 30 minutes, Federal Minister for Interior Ahsan Iqbal criticised the security forces for stopping PML-N leaders, lawyers and supporters of Nawaz Sharif from entering the court.
Talking to reporters, a visibly angry Iqbal said that Rangers had barred PML-N leaders, lawyers and Sharif’s supporters from entering the complex in spite of an earlier decision to allow a select group of PML-N members and media personnel to attend the hearing.
“This morning, however, the situation had changed and the Rangers had taken over security [of the judicial complex],” said Iqbal, adding that in Islamabad the Rangers operate on the directions of the chief commissioner.
The minister said that the Rangers claimed to have “their own orders”.
“Rangers are subordinate to my ministry… they’re supposed to work under the command of the civil administration. If Rangers have refused to observe orders, a high-level enquiry will be held and we will see who has challenged the writ of the government,” an animated Iqbal said.
“I waited for the Rangers commander for 15 minutes, this is unacceptable. Whosoever has done this, disciplinary action will be taken against him. I will resign as I will not be a puppet minister. A force that is subordinate to me has to follow my orders. There cannot be two states [within a state],” he said, adding that “closed trials are a hallmark of martial law regimes”.
Later, Iqbal also admonished an assistant commissioner for the state of affairs, asking the official to submit a written report on the day’s events.
After Iqbal left the judicial complex for Punjab House, the Rangers’ commander, a brigadier, stepped out of the complex to enquire into the situation and spoke to Federal Minister Daniyal Aziz. A number of media personnel and lawyers surrounded them and began chanting “shame, shame”, after which the officer went back to the court complex.
REFERENCES AGAINST SHARIF FAMILY:
Accountability Court-I Judge Mohammad Bashir had summoned Sharif, his children Maryam Nawaz, Hussain Nawaz, Hassan Nawaz, and son-in-law Safdar on Monday in references pertaining to the Avenfield apartments, Azizia Steel Mills and offshore companies filed against them by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
The ousted prime minister was provided copies of the references against him at the previous hearing on Sept 26.
The court had also issued bailable arrest warrants for his children and son-in-law as they failed to appear before it, despite two earlier summons.
However, speaking to supporters in Lahore on Sunday, Sharif said his children would return from London and appear before the court once his wife’s health improves.
He made the remarks after visiting the grave of his father along with his brother Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
The former prime minister also held consultations with his political and legal aides on various issues after arriving in Islamabad on Sunday evening.
The Supreme Court had disqualified Nawaz Sharif on July 28 in the Panama Papers case and ordered NAB to file corruption and money laundering references against the Sharif family and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in the light of the Joint Investigation Team’s report.
Dar has already been indicted in the reference against him for possessing assets beyond his known sources of income.