–Court to take up Nawaz’s plea against Al-Azizia and NAB’s appeal challenging Flagship acquittal on the same day
ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) will take up former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s plea against Al-Azizia verdict and the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) plea challenging Nawaz’s acquittal in Flagship reference on September 18.
In December 2018, Accountability Judge Arshad Malik convicted Nawaz Sharif in the Al-Azizia reference and acquitted him in the Flagship reference. The former premier was sentenced to seven-year rigorous imprisonment and also disqualified from public office for a period of 10 years.
The appeals will be heard by an IHC division bench comprising acting IHC Chief Justice Amir Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani.
The development comes a day after the presiding judge in the two cases was removed by the IHC after a leaked video claimed that the judge ruled against the former PM under pressure from certain quarters.
Though, the statement was denied by the judge, Arshad Malik, in a press release and later an affidavit, he was still repatriated to the Lahore High Court.
The high court has also ordered to attach the affidavit of Arshad Malik with the appeals of the former prime minister and other accused against the judgements in the two corruption references.
In the backdrop of Malik’s removal, the PML-N was gunning for an immediate hearing on Nawaz’s appeal against the Al-Azizia conviction. However, the ex-PM now faces a wait of a little over two months as the IHC’s summer vacations run from July 8 to September 9.
PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz had presented a video during a press conference wherein the NAB judge could be purportedly heard admitting that he sentenced Nawaz under duress. She demanded immediate acquittal of her father in the light of the said video.
However, the judge denied the claims, saying his words were twisted by the PML-N. In fact, in a statement, he had gone on to accuse the PML-N leadership of intimidating him during the course of the trial.
His subsequent affidavit also repeated the same allegations. He claimed that PML-N representatives Nasir Janjua and Mahar Jilani had offered him hefty bribes in exchange for a favourable verdict in the corruption references and had threatened him with dire consequences if he failed to comply.
“Nasir Janjua claimed that he had the cash of equivalent of Rs100 million in Euros for me immediately available out of which the Euro equivalent of Rs20 million was laying in his car parked outside,” he said, adding that he denied the bribe while remaining committed to giving the verdict on merit.
He said that the bribe was soon followed by a threat of physical harm from Nasir Butt, who had told him that “Mian Nawaz Sharif had helped him avoid punishment for 4-5 murders he had committed and he was willing to go to any extent to help Mian Sahib in the trials he was facing”.