Complete trial on references against Sharifs within a month: CJP

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LAHORE : Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar directed on Sunday the accountability court to announce decision on all three corruption references against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam within a month.

A two-member bench headed by the chief justice was hearing the petition seeking further extension for the conclusion of trails against Nawaz and his family with regard to corruption references filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) after apex court’s verdict in Panama Papers case.

During the hearing, the chief justice rejected Nawaz’s counsel Khawaja Haris’ request for completing trial in six weeks, observing that final verdict against the former premier, his sons, daughter and son-in-law should be announced within a month.

The petitioner said that concluding remarks are underway in Avenfield reference, Wajid Zia is being prosecuted in Al Azizia reference while the statement of investigation officer is yet to be recorded.

The verdict in the case cannot be declared yet, therefore, extension is needed, he added.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar directed NAB court judge Justice Mohammad Bashir to complete the hearing as early as possible as the accused and the people are in immense tension.

However, the top judge remarked, Nawaz along with his daughter could go to see his ailing wife Begum Kulsoom Nawaz in London if he wanted to during the trial period.

The SC in July 28, 2017, Panamagate verdict, while disqualifying Nawaz Sharif from the post of prime minister, had originally set a deadline of six months which ended in mid-March but was extended for two months after the judge requested the apex court.

Earlier, the trial court had submitted the second plea for a deadline extension, which was approved by the Supreme Court ordering both sides to finish the corruption cases by June 9.

On June 4, Accountability Judge Muhammad Bashir while hearing the Al-Azizia reference had remarked that he would write a letter to the Supreme Court requesting another extension to wrap up corruption references against the Sharif family.

The corruption references, filed against the Sharifs, pertain to the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment, offshore companies including Flagship Investment Ltd, and Avenfield properties of London.

Nawaz and sons Hussain and Hasan are accused in all three references whereas his daughter Maryam and son-in-law Safdar are accused in the Avenfield reference only.

The two brothers, based abroad, have been absconding since the proceedings began last year and were declared proclaimed offenders by the court. Their trial in the high-profile corruption case has been separated from other family members’ owing to their continued absence.

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