Al-Azizia, Flagship references: Nawaz Sharif summoned again tomorrow (Wednesday)

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ISLAMABAD : Imprisoned former prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif was produced on Monday before National Accountability Bureau (NAB) court in Al-Azizia Steel Mill and Flagship Investment references.

Jail authorities brought Sharif to the NAB court in an armoured vehicle and entered from the rear entrance of the judicial complex. As many as 200 personnel were deployed around the accountability court.

NAB court judge Arshad Malik heard the case instead of Muhammad Bashir after Islamabad High Court (IHC) two-member bench approved Nawaz Sharif’s plea for transferring Al-Azizia Steel Mill and Flagship Investment references to other court.

During the hearing, NAB prosecution team and Joint Investigation Team (JIT) head Wajid Zia appeared before the court.

The court while adjourning the proceedings till August 15 has summoned Sharif, Zia and investigating officer Mehboob Alam on next hearing.

Authorities banned the entry of irrelevant persons and media personnel in the Federal Judicial Complex during the hearing.

Following an Islamabad High Court (IHC) order to transfer the remaining corruption references against Sharif and his two sons to a different court, Accountability Court Judge Mohammad Arshad Malik conducted first hearing on Thursday and issued summons for Sharif’s production from jail.

Also, the court has summoned the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) head, Wajid Zia, for his cross-examination in the references on Monday.

Stringent security arrangements were held on the arrival of Nawaz Sharif as he was brought by armoured vehicle in the court under strict security personnel. The vehicles carrying jammers and ambulances were also included in the security caravan.

Earlier, Accountability Court Judge Muhammad Bashir heard all the three references — Avenfield Apartments reference, Al-Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship & other companies reference — for 10 months and pronounced the judgment in the Avenfield Apartments reference on July 6.

Judge Bashir convicted Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar and awarded 10 years, seven years and two years sentences, respectively, while imposing a heavy fine on the father and his daughter. Roughly, the accused appeared before the court over 80 times.

During the hearing, NAB’s Deputy Prosecutor General (DPG) Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi informed the court that Sharif couldn’t be produced before the court due to security concerns and then appraised the judge of pending references.

Sharif’s counsel, Khawaja Haris, informed the court that the IHC was to hear an appeal by members of the Sharif family, seeking suspension of their sentences and granting them bail on Monday. He then requested the court to adjourn cross-examination of Zia until Friday.

“The prosecution can produce Zia for recording his statement in the Flagship reference if they want,” he added.

The court; however, fixed Zia’s cross-examination for Monday and said defence may examine Zia if he has time left from his legal commitments before the IHC.

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