By Abrar Saeed & Shahid Rao
ISLAMABAD – An accountability court Monday declared Hasan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz proclaimed offenders in three corruption references.
The court also directed prosecution to record statements of witnesses, as it heard corruption cases against the deposed prime minister and other members of his family.
Accepting his plea, the court granted Nawaz one-week exemption from personal appearance but rejected his daughter Maryam Nawaz’ request for change in the dates for already grated one-month exemption.
The sons of Nawaz Sharif never appeared in the court in all the three references– Azizia Steel Mills Reference, Avenfield Properties Reference and Flagship Investment Company Reference – since the start of trial.
They had not even jointed NAB investigation despite repeated notices. The court had already seized their bank accounts and shares in various companies but NAB could not trace out any properties in their names.
The court after recording the statements against both would issue perpetual arrest warrants for them and may initiate process to bring them back through Interpol at later stage.When the court took up the case against Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Safdar, all the three were present in the courtroom.
Seeking adjournment, Defence counsel KhHaris told the court about Islamabad High Court verdict on their petition for clubbing of all the three reference against Nawaz .
The court was informed that the verdict would likely be handed down by 12pm and took a break till 1.00pm with directives to the accused to appear in the afternoon. Haris sought Nawaz exemption for a day but the court directed all the three accused to be present. After the break, the trio appeared in the court. Meanwhile, the court recorded statement of another prosecution witness and adjourned the hearing for today (Tuesday).
Seperately, the Islamabad High Court Monday turned down former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s petition for joint trial in three references being heard by Islamabad Accountability Court.
The IHC division bench, comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, announced the short judgment.
Earlier, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abassi said the accountability court had already started recording statements of witnesses in all the three references and the application for joint trial and joint charges was ‘infructuous’.
Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani asked from Nawaz counsel Azam Nazir Tarrar, about the impact it would make if all the witnesses record their statements and produce evidence and this court accept this petition.
He recited an Urdu couplet which means, “(He) sought forgiveness after my murder, This is how (he) showed his regret,” when the court asked him what impact it would make if all the witnesses record their statements and produce evidence.
In his petition, the former prime minister also made a request to the Islamabad High Court for setting aside the November 8 verdict of an accountability court through which it had rejected his application for joint trial.
He made respondents the state through NAB chairman and the Accountability Court No 1 judge.
Nawaz submitted that he is “aggrieved of an accountability court order dated November 8 through which it turned down his application of joint framing of charges and joint trial in three corruption references filed against him regarding alleged offences of same kind.
He added that through the application, the petitioner had also been seeking deletion of section 9(a)(v) from the charges in corruption reference number 20. He contented in his petition that in all the three references it was alleged that the properties acquired from 2001 till 2009 (with remittances covering from 2009 till 2015) in the name of Hasan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz were actually owned by the petitioner and were disproportionate to his known sources of income.
The petitioner added that each reference is supplemented by a nine-volume Joint Investigation Team report with common prosecution witnesses. Similarly, the petitioner’s defence against each allegation is also same.
He maintained that the offences under section 9(a)(v) and all precedents pertaining thereto, a single offence can be framed against the accused irrespective of the nature and number of the assets alleged to be owned by the accused.
The former prime minister said that on July 28, the Supreme Court had directed NAB to file three corruption references against him and co-accused whereas petitioner challenged the order to the extent of filing three corruption references. At this, the IHC questioned what effect it would make when this court is hearing the same case. The lawyer replied to the court that the SC could not make a satisfactory response. The Nation