Clubbing corruption references: Nawaz challenges NAB court's verdict in IHC

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Sharif's counsel sought a joint trial, arguing that the main allegation in all three corruption references was the same - that the assets under the names of Hussain and Hassan Nawaz were actually owned by Nawaz Sharif.

An accountability court on Wednesday formally initiated trial proceedings against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law MNA Capt (r) Safdar in three graft references filed against the Sharif family by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Meanwhile, Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz submitted plea seeking exemption from the hearing, owing to the ongoing medical treatment of Kulsoom Nawaz in London.

Four witnesses have been summoned for the next hearing.

Maryam Nawaz and Captain (retd) Safdar, who have been indicted in corruption references, were also present in the courtroom.

The ousted PM, in his application, asked to be exempted from trial hearings till November 27 as the next spell of his wife's chemotherapy is about to begin.

His counsel stated that Nawaz's pleader, Zafir Khan, will appear on the former premier's behalf during his absence. However, she added, if some emergency arises, her pleader Jahangir Jadoon will appear on her behalf.

The court also declared Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz, sons of the former prime minister, absconders during today's hearing as they have not appeared in the court even after being repeatedly summoned.

The Sharifs then exited the court, however, the hearing is now under way.

During the proceedings, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan's (SECP) Joint Registrar Sidra Mansoor recorded her statement as the first witness in the Avenfield flats reference. The witness informed the judge that she appeared before the NAB Lahore team on August 18 and furnished all required documents regarding various business of Sharifs.

During the hearing, Mansoor testified that she had provided NAB with the 2000-2005 audit report of Hudaibiya Paper Mills.

After Mansoor recorded her statement and was cross-examined, the court recorded the statement of Ahmed, the witness in the Al Azizia reference. The court had also rejected the petition.

Subsequently, the proceeding has been adjourned till November 22.

"These courts have double standards".

Informally talking to journalists, Nawaz Sharif said, "Our struggle for the elimination of dual standard will reach its logical conclusion".

Judge of the Accountability Court Islamabad Muhammad Bashir heard the case.

The lawyer of Sharif, Azam Tarar, filed the application pleading from IHC to reject verdict of accountability court.

Maryam and Safdar are only nominated in the London properties reference.

This is the second time Sharif approached the IHC seeking directives for the trial court to conduct a join trial of all the three references.

NAB's Rawalpindi branch prepared two references regarding the Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metals Establishment, and the almost dozen companies owned by the Sharif family.

If convicted, the accused may face up to 14 years imprisonment and lifelong disqualification from holding public office including the freezing of bank accounts and assets.

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