–Anti-graft judge grants deposed PM, his daughter Maryam four-day exemption from personal appearance in court
ISLAMABAD: After much reflection, the counsel of deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Khawaja Harris, has decided to resume his role as the lead counsel for Nawaz in the graft references filed by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against him.
Harris, who had recused himself from the case on June 11 following a Supreme Court (SC) order to wrap up the graft references within one month and to also conduct hearings on a daily basis, including Saturdays if needed, expressed certain reservations on the said order.
Giving reasons for distancing himself from the case, Harris stated that the case was a rather complicated one which required thousands of documents to be scrutinised on a daily basis and added that he couldn’t pursue the case if proceedings were fixed for Saturdays as well.
He argued that he has been dealing with the Panama Papers case for several years and did not want the ground realities to be overlooked.
Upon which, the NAB judge assured the counsel that the SC had left on him how to conduct and regulate the proceedings.
Reacting to Harris’ statement, NAB prosecutor Muzaffar Abbasi said that the court has also sought exemption three times already, adding that a reference should be disposed of in one month under Section 16 of the National Accountability Ordinance.
“It has taken prosecution nine months to present final arguments just in the Avenfield reference, while other references are still pending,” Haris retorted. “I do not want to blame the NAB for delay as it is a complicated case.”
SHARIFS GET FOUR-DAY EXEMPTION:
The accountability court also accepted Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam’s request to seek exemption from appearance in accountability.
Nawaz Sharif and his daughter are currently in London to tend to Begum Kulsoom and had sought a seven-day exemption, but the court granted them a four-day exemption instead from appearing before the court in Islamabad for the hearing of the corruption references filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against them.
‘WHY IS JUDGEMENT DELAYED’?
Over the course of the hearing, Harris asked the court how the court plans on taking the cases forward. Subsequently, Nawaz’s newly-appointed counsel Jahangir Jadoon told the court, “People are asking why the court is not announcing a judgment.”
Justice Bashir responded to Jadoon, “The court follows a procedure and on my behalf tell those people that why are they commenting when they are not respondents.”
Meanwhile, the court has summoned Panamagate Joint Investigation Team (JIT) head and prosecution’s star witness Wajid Zia in regards to the Al-Azizia reference.
Nawaz and his family are facing three corruption cases in the accountability court after the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) filed references against them in light of the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Panama Papers case.
The trial against the Sharif family had commenced on September 14, 2017.
The corruption references, filed against the Sharifs, pertain to the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment, offshore companies including Flagship Investment Limited, and Avenfield properties of London.