Headlines, Pakistan

Court indicts Nawaz in three separate corruption references

The accountability court hearing corruption cases against Nawaz Sharif and his family members has rejected an application filed by the ousted prime minister for clubbing together the three references filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

After the announcement of the judgment, Sharif was called to the rostrum and the judge read out the charges against him. The former prime minister was indicted separately in each of the three references — he plead “not guilty” to all the charges.

While at the rostrum, Sharif expressed his concern that since the Supreme Court had given a six-month deadline for the references to be wrapped up, deciding four references in this period would mean each case gets just 1.5 months. However, the judge observed that the cases could conclude within the timeframe if heard simultaneously.

After the indictment, the court revived summons for the prosecution witnesses — Sidra Mansoor of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and Jahangir Ahmed of Federal Board of Revenue — to appear at the next hearing.

The Sharif family members left the court after the hearing was adjourned until November 15.
The court had reserved its ruling on Sharif’s application on Tuesday after hearing arguments from both the defence counsel and the NAB prosecution.

Nawaz Sharif along with his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired Captain Mohammad Safdar appeared before the accountability court in Islamabad on Wednesday as hearing resumed into the references filed under the directives of the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case verdict.

Speaking to reporters as he left the court, Nawaz Sharif said he already knew the Supreme Court judgment on the review petitions filed against the Panama Papers case verdict would never come in his favour.

“These judges are full of grudge… their grudge and anger has come out in words,” he said, commenting on the strong words used in the detailed order.

“This grudge, anger and words will become a dark chapter of history.”

Sharif said the judiciary had penned several dark chapters in Pakistan’s history during dictatorial rules and the judgment on the review petition would.

The court on Wednesday also decided on an application filed by Maryam Nawaz and her husband Safdar for deletion of a charge related to the use of Calibri font.

The accountability court had on Oct 19 indicted Maryam and Safdar in the Avenfield reference related to London properties. Besides other charges, the court also charged Maryam with signing a document in Calibri font in February 2006 when that font did not exist.

Announcing its judgment, the court decided to delete Section 3(a) of National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999 dealing with forgery from the charges against the couple.

The charge could be reinstated in case the prosecution comes up with solid evidence against the accused related to forgery.

The application filed by Advocate Amjad Pervez had pointed out that “as per mandatory provision envisage by Section 30 of the NAO 1999, the cognizance of an offence of false evidence committed in the course of the investigation or trial is to be taken upon pronouncement of judgment”.

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