Judge Malik's press release, affidavit included in Nawaz's appeal against Al Azizia verdict

Updated September 18, 2019

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Last year, Nawaz Sharif was handed a seven-year prison sentence by an accountability court. — AFP/File
Last year, Nawaz Sharif was handed a seven-year prison sentence by an accountability court. — AFP/File

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday included verified copies of a press statement and affidavit released by accountability judge Arshad Malik in the paper book of an appeal filed by former premier Nawaz Sharif against his conviction in the Al Azizia corruption case.

Judge Malik had last year convicted Nawaz in the Al Azizia reference and sentenced to seven years of prison. The court had also fined Nawaz Rs1.5 billion and US $25 million in the Al-Azizia reference. The former premier is currently in Kot Lakhpat jail.

Nawaz had challenged the verdict in the high court and it was heard today by a two-member bench, comprising Justice Aamir Farooq and Justice Mohsin Raza Kiyani. A plea filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to extend Nawaz's sentence from seven to 14 years was also heard simultaneously.

During the hearing, Nawaz's counsel Khawaja Haris asked the court for a "verified copy" of a press release and an affidavit submitted in IHC by Malik after a controversial video of the judge surfaced. The bench said that both items had been included in the file that was provided to Haris.

The court said that evidence provided by NAB as well as Nawaz's counsel had been included in the file and told Haris to tally the documents of the paper book with his own record.

During the hearing, Haris said that some documents were missing from the paper book. The court responded that if any document had been left out, the counsel can submit it later.

When asked how long it would take for Haris to conclude his arguments on the appeal, he said that he will wrap up in three months.

The court then directed that the copies of Malik's press release and affidavit be provided to Haris as well as NAB's counsel. The hearing was adjourned until October 7.

PML-N leaders, including party spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb, Raja Zafarul Haq, Ayaz Sadiq, Pervez Rashid were also present in the courtroom during the hearing.

The reference pertains to the Sharif family being unable to justify the source of the funds provided to set up Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment (HME) in Saudi Arabia, making this a case of owning assets beyond means.

PML-N had raised questions over the conviction after a video scandal involving Malik surfaced earlier this year. Nawaz's daughter Maryam Nawaz had released a video clip in which Malik allegedly confessed that he had been "blackmailed" into convicting Sharif. Maryam, who is currently in NAB custody, had called for an overturning of Nawaz's conviction.

Malik was removed from his position after the video was released and has been repatriated to the Lahore High Court where disciplinary proceedings against him will be held.