LAHORE: . Deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his children failed to show up at an accountability court hearing three corruption references filed against them by the country’s top graft buster on the orders of the apex court.
Islamabad Accountability Court Judge Muhammad Bashir reissued summons directing the Sharif family to appear in the court on September 26, while turning down a National Accountability Bureau (NAB) request to issue arrest warrants for the Sharifs.
The summons were issued to Sharif, his sons Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz, daughter Maryam, and son-in-law Captain (retd) Muhammad Safdar.
The NAB references pertain to the Avenfield flats, Flagship Investment Limited and 15 other companies as well as alAzizia Company Limited and Hill Metals Establishment.
Sharif’s aide Asif Kirmani, who was present during the hearing, informed the court that the former premier was currently in London with his ailing wife. The court directed Kirmani to inform the accused about the summons.
Kirmani told the judge that he would inform only Sharif, Maryam and Safdar about the summons, because Hassan and Hussain did not live at Raiwind.
When the hearing started, NAB submitted a compliance report regarding the earlier summons issued to the Sharif family. The court was informed that a security officer at the address received the summons for Sharif, Maryam, and Capt Safdar and told the NAB official he had instructions not to receive summons for Hassan and Hussain.
Expressing displeasure, Judge Bashir remarked that the court summons were issued for the accused and not for their security in-charge. He said officials should not hand over court orders to the security in-charge without recording and submitting his statement before the court.
“This is a criminal court. Not a civil court. If the summons were handed over to a security official, then his statement should have been annexed with the report,” he remarked. He said the court had to complete the legal process.
The court directed NAB’s prosecution team to “trace the addresses of Hassan and Hussain” so that summons could be sent to them. “NAB found out about London properties but is not aware of where they [accused] live,” the judge said, adding it could be found from the reference file.
The NAB prosecutor requested the court to issue arrest warrants for the accused who were “taking the summons very easy” and that the investigation officer might not have access to them.
The prosecutor drew the court’s attention to a Supreme Court direction about concluding the reference cases within six months. Judge Bashir replied: “That order is for the court. We’ll look into it and also your performance during the period.”
While reissuing the summons for Sharif family, the court also directed NAB to paste court orders [summons] outside their residence.
The accountability references stem from the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Panamagate case on July 28. The apex court had directed NAB to file the references within six weeks, a deadline the country’s top graft buster complied with by filing four references.
Sharif and his sons are named in the three references, while Maryam and her husband Safdar have only been named in the Avenfield reference.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar also faces a separate reference for possessing assets beyond his known sources of income and, on the previous hearing, the court had summoned him on Wednesday (today).