ISLAMABAD .: The Islamabad High Court expressed on Monday its intension to decide petitions seeking suspension of sentences awarded to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son in-law in the Avenfield Apartments reference by September 17.
IHC’s division bench comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, subsequently, directed the counsel for members of the Sharif family and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutors to conclude arguments in the London Flats reference by Monday.
The bench clarified that no adjournment will be granted, adding that Sharif’s counsel Khawaja Haris and Maryam Nawaz and Captain (retd) Safdar’s counsel, Amjad Pervaiz, should conclude arguments by Wednesday and NAB should conclude by Monday. The court also directed the parties to submit written synopsis.
“It will not go beyond Monday,” remarked Justice Minallah, adding the court expects NAB will not seek any adjournment. Next, the court directed Haris to begin arguments from September 11 and persuade the court how it can decide the cases without touching the merits/evidence under section 426 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
At the onset, Haris requested the court to decide the suspension petitions first before taking up the appeals against the conviction. The counsel said that the Supreme Court has ordered to conclude the pending trial against Sharif in Al-Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment (HME) and Flagship & other companies references within six weeks and it was not possible for him to simultaneously argue before the accountability court and in the IHC.
He argued that arguing on appeals is a lengthy matter and since there is commonality in all three references – Avenfield, Azizia, and Flagship – therefore, the court may hear appeals at a later stage and first decide petitions.
Meanwhile, NAB has appointed a new special prosecutor, Mohammad Akram Qureshi, for arguing on Shairfs’ petitions and appeals. When Qureshi insisted that petitioners should first argue on the appeals and continue trial as well, Justice Aurangzeb remarked “what does NAB say he [Haris] should divide himself into two”.
Subsequently, when NAB sough one week’s time, the judge remarked that the statement is badly representing on NAB. “If you don’t argue by Monday we would decide petitions,” Justice Minallah said while making it clear that no adjournment would be granted. Since, he said, the court has already partly heard the matter, therefore, Haris and Pervaiz should provide assistance how can these petitions be decided without touching the merits of the case.
The court will resume hearing on Sept 11 (today).
Cross examination continues
Meanwhile, Haris continued cross examination on the head of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), Wajid Zia, who along with his team members had probed into Panama papers scandal on Supreme Court’s directions, in the Azizia reference.
During cross examination, Zia admitted that there was a source document in Volume six of the JIT report wherein Hill Metals Establishment is referred as a company. The document was provided to JIT on June 20, 2017, it is a photocopy and does not contain signatures of any executant or witness.
He conceded that the Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) request with reference to HME was sent to KSA much earlier to the receipt of the source document. “There was no document available with the JIT which had referred the Hill Modern Industry for Metal Establishment as a company,” Zia said.
Several senior leaders of PML-N including Raja Zafarul Haq, Pervez Rashid, Mushahid Hussain Syed, Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, Sardar Mehtab Abbasi, Mian Javed Latif, Chaudhry Tanvir, Javed Abbasi, Saadia Abbasi, Anjum Aqeel Khan, Malik Ibrar, Tariq Fazal Chaudhry and others were present inside the courtroom.