ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has constituted a two-member bench to hear an appeal filed by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif against his conviction in the Al-Azizia reference.
The bench, consisting of Justice Aamir Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, will hear the appeal on Sept 18.
This will be the first hearing of Mr Sharif’s appeal since the controversy regarding the leaked video of judge Arshad Malik surfaced in July.
The video, purportedly showing judge Arshad Malik ‘confessing’ that he had convicted Nawaz Sharif under duress, was made public by Maryam Nawaz, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader, at a press conference.
Accountability judge Arshad Malik, who was removed from his position after the leak, was the author of verdicts in the Al Azizia and Flagship references on Dec 24 last year. He convicted Mr Sharif in the Al-Azizia case, but acquitted him in the other.
Judge Malik admitted that a video existed in which he was shown in a compromising position, but alleged that PML-N supporters Nasir Butt, Nasir Janjua, Mahar Ghulam Jilani and Khurram Yousaf had purchased this video from accused Mian Tariq Mehmood and were pressuring him into acquitting Nawaz Sharif.
The judge said in an affidavit that at a social gathering attended by both Nasir Janjua and Maher Ghulam Jilani, the former took him aside and requested him to give a verdict of acquittal in both references.
The judge further claimed that the two individuals later met him at a party and offered him euros equivalent to almost Rs100 million and told him that foreign currency worth Rs20m was already available in their vehicle outside.
The affidavit alleged that Nasir Butt told the judge that Nasir Janjua would make the video public soon. A couple of days later, Mian Tariq Mehmood visited the judge’s house and showed him the video.
While accused Tariq Mahmood was sent to jail on judicial remand, the three suspects — Nasir Janjua, Maher Ghulam Jilani and Khurram Yousaf — were remanded in FIA custody for interrogation.
After the expiry of their physical remand, the investigation officer submitted a discharge report to the local court last week, stating that during the course of investigation, “they [the accused] were found not involved in the commission of offences levelled against them in case…and the charges could not be established against them”.
The Supreme Court disqualified Nawaz Sharif from holding any public office in July 2017 and ordered the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to file three references against the Sharif family.
Earlier, the apex court had constituted a six-member joint investigation team (JIT), comprising officials of the Federal Investigation Agency, NAB, Inter-Services Intelligence, Military Intelligence, Securities and Exchange Commission and the State Bank.
Accountability judge Mohammad Bashir convicted Mr Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz in the Avenfield properties reference on July 6 last year. The IHC, however, suspended the sentence.
Published in Dawn, September 10th, 2019