–Nawaz’s counsel says Judge Bashir has already ‘disclosed his mind by convicting Nawaz Sharif in Avenfield verdict’
–Haris says investigation officers in all references are different whereas witnesses, defence are same
ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday adjourned the proceedings of an application filed by ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif for the transfer of accountability references, Flagship and Al-Azizia references, from the court of Accountability Judge Muhammad Bashir.
A two-member bench, comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, deferred the proceedings till August 2 (Thursday) when lead counsel Khawaja Haris will further present his arguments.
The court failed to take up the bail applications filed by Maryam Nawaz and Capt Muhammad Safdar due to the longevity of arguments presented by Haris.
Haris said that the defence in all three cases is quite similar and the legal arguments are also the same. “Judge Muhammad Bashir has already disclosed his mind by punishing my client in the Avenfield verdict,” he argued as he requested the court to transfer the remaining two references to another court.
When the court asked about the current status of the cases, Nawaz’s counsel told the court that Panama JIT head Wajid Zia’s cross-examination is underway in Al-Azizia reference while his cross-examination is pending.
Upon this, Justice Farooq asked whether the cases will resume from the same point at which the currently stand, to which Haris responded affirmatively.
On this, Justice Hassan asked whether there was any precedent about transferring of cases under similar circumstances. The counsel replied saying there wasn’t any such precedent and this was a unique case, however, a few somewhat similar cases do exist.
When the court questioned whether the defence has filed similar petitions in the Supreme Court, Nawaz’s lawyer replied that the apex court did not entertain their petition.
To another question, Haris said that investigation officers in all references are different whereas the witnesses and defence are the same.
On July 6, an anti-graft court in Islamabad sentenced Nawaz to a total of 11 years in prison and slapped a £8 million fine (Rs1.3 billion) in the Avenfield case, whereas Maryam received an eight-year sentence with a £2 million fine (Rs335 million).
The Sharif family has challenged the verdict in IHC, highlighting the legal flaws in the Avenfield judgement and asking to declare accountability court’s verdict null and void and three convicts to be released on bail.
A separate appeal was also filed requesting the court to transfer Al-Azizia and Flagship Investment references against Nawaz Sharif from Judge Muhammad Bashir’s Accountability Court-I to another accountability court.
PLEAS AGAINST AVENFIELD JUDGEMENT:
On July 16, Sharifs challenged their conviction by the accountability court in the Avenfield reference in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) as the 10-day deadline for the review petition expired.
Nawaz and two each on behalf of Maryam and Safdar ─ pertaining to their conviction in the corruption reference.
The appeal, filed by Nawaz’s legal counsel Khawaja Haris and Maryam and Safdar’s lawyer Amjad Pervaiz, highlights flaws in the Avenfield judgment and asks the IHC to declare accountability court’s verdict null and void and release the three convicts on bail.
Three appeals were filed by Advocate Haris urging the IHC to set aside the accountability court’s verdict in the Avenfield reference and to suspend the conviction sentence until the IHC adjudicated on the main appeals. The third appeal requests the court to transfer the Al-Azizia and Flagship corruption references against Nawaz from the court of Accountability Judge Mohammad Bashir to another accountability court in Islamabad.
Two appeals each were filed by Amjad Pervaiz urging the IHC to set aside the accountability court’s verdict in the Avenfield corruption reference, while the second requested the suspension of the NAB court’s verdict until the IHC adjudicates on the appeals.
The appeals stated that Accountability Judge Bashir had passed the Avenfield verdict on the basis of presumptions and assumptions, without fulfilling the “requirements of justice”.
After almost 10 months of continuous trial, an accountability court found former premier Nawaz and two of his family members guilty in one of the four corruption references filed against them in line with the apex court’s July 28, 2017 order and awarded them “rigorous imprisonment” and heavy financial penalties.
The accused were also disqualified to contest election or to hold public office for a period of 10 years to be reckoned from the date they are released after serving the sentence and they shall not be allowed to apply for or to be granted or allowed any financial facilities in the form of a loan for a period of 10 years from the date of their conviction within the meaning of section 15 of NAO 1999.
The historic decision was to be announced earlier but after multiple delays, the judge read out the operative paragraphs of the 174-page judgment at around 4:30 in the absence of the accused.