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Sharif seeks clubbing of cases ahead of court appearance

November 15, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday challenged the decision of an accountability court, which refused to club three separate references against him, before the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

Mr Sharif, who is also president of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), arrived in Islamabad ahead of his appearance before the accountability court today (Wednesday).

Party sources said the PML-N chief would stay in Islamabad over the next few days and was expected to address a public meeting in Abbottabad on Nov 20. The party is also planning to hold a public meeting in Sheikhupura and Multan in the days to come.

The former prime minister has asked the high court to suspend accountability court proceedings until joint charges are framed against him, as envisaged in Section 17(d) of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) in references No 18, 19 and 20 of 2017.

Ex-PM’s latest petition before IHC assails accountability judge’s decision to reject plea to frame joint charges

The IHC admitted the petition and fixed Nov 20 as the next date of hearing, while issuing notices to NAB.

Mr Sharif’s lawyer, Azam Nazir Tarar, submitted the application on his behalf.

This is the second time the former PM has moved the IHC to club the three references. Earlier, the high court had accepted a petition and ordered on Nov 3 that the matter should be decided by the trial court. However, Accountability Judge Bashir had rejected the plea on Nov 8.

The petition filed on Tuesday said: “The accountability court did not take the IHC’s previous judgement into account while deciding against clubbing the three references together.”

“The accountability court gave its verdict in a rush and thus it should be deemed void by the IHC,” it added.

Mr Sharif’s counsel sought a joint trial, arguing that the main allegation in all three corruption references was the same — that the assets under the names of Hussain and Hassan Nawaz were actually owned by Nawaz Sharif.

He pleaded that the three references had been supplemented by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report, and six of the nine witnesses were common in references 18 and 19, while two out of 10 witnesses were common in all three corruption references.

The petition said the accountability court’s order was based on a gross misreading of the “facts” on which it was purportedly based.

Earlier, the accountability court judge had held that the prosecution or the accused could not insist on conducting a joint trial of offences, even if they were similar. The accused could not justify the clubbing of all three references for a joint trial in the circumstances of the cases, the written order had said.

The accountability judge had said the request for a single trial had been made in view of the convenience of the accused, adding that if joint charges were framed, the facts of each case could get mixed up. Moreover, the offences alleged in the three corruption references were not of the same kind.

Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2017