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Nawaz appears before accountability court in Al-Azizia, Flagship references

Updated August 13, 2018

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Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif leaves an accountability court in an armoured car after a court appearance in two corruption cases. —AP
Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif leaves an accountability court in an armoured car after a court appearance in two corruption cases. —AP

Incarcerated former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday appeared before the accountability court in Islamabad amid tight security for the hearing of the Al-Azizia and Flagship corruption references against him.

Wajid Zia, the star prosecution witness in the case ─ and head of the Panamagate joint investigation team ─ also appeared in court today.

Both the references were heard simultaneously. Zia was cross-examined in the Al-Azizia reference and he has yet to record his statement in the Flagship reference.

The authorities had barred media from entering the judicial complex where the cases were being heard.

Sharif's lawyer Khawaja Haris did not appear before the court as he had to pursue a petition in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against the sentences of Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and retired Capt Safdar.

Zafir Khan, another lawyer of Sharif, submitted an application in the court to get Zia's statement recorded in the Flagship reference.

The prosecution, however, opposed the plea, insisting that the cross-examination of Zia should be completed in the Al-Azizia reference first before recording the statement in the second reference.

The judge rejected the plea and deferred the hearing of the two references to Wednesday [August 15].

He also directed the authorities to ensure the presence of Sharif, Zia and Mehboob Alam, the investigation officer in the Al-Azizia reference, in the next hearing.

Sharif was expected to appear before the court in the last hearing, but National Accountability Bureau (NAB) officials had told the court that he could not be produced on the day due to security concerns.

On Thursday, Accountability Judge Arshad Malik had started hearing the cases after the IHC shifted the references from the court of Accountability Judge Mohammad Bashir to his court.

On July 6, Accountability Judge Mohammad Bashir had announced the verdict in the Avenfield properties corruption reference filed by NAB, handing the ousted prime minister 10 years of jail time for owning assets beyond known income and seven years to his daughter Maryam Nawaz for abetment.

Later on July 16, Sharif, through his counsel Khawaja Haris, had filed an appeal in the IHC for the transfer of Al Azizia and Flagship references to another accountability court since the arguments in both cases were similar to the ones given in the Avenfield reference.

Days later, Judge Bashir decided to recuse himself from hearing the two pending references. Subsequently, the IHC, on the appeal of the Sharif family, shifted the references to the court of Arshad Malik.