Pakistan court rejects Nawaz Sharif’s objections to supplementary case in Panama Papers scandal

The three cases against the Sharif family pertain to the Al-Azizia Steel Mills, several companies including Flagship Investment Ltd, and London's Avenfield properties.

By: PTI | Islamabad | Published: January 30, 2018 5:36:40 pm
nawaz sharif, panama papers, nawaz sharif corruption, national accountability court, nawaz sharif panama papers, pakistan, indian express Nawaz Sharif (file)

An accountability court in Pakistan on Tuesday rejected ousted premier Nawaz Sharif’s objections to the supplementary case filed against him and his family by the country’s anti-graft body over properties in London.

The court holding trial in graft cases against Sharif and his family decided that the supplementary case would be made part of the record in the Avenfield flats case.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on January 22 filed a supplementary case with the accountability court’s registrar in Islamabad which is already trying Sharif and his family — two sons Hussain and Hassan, daughter Maryam, and son-in-law Safdar — for alleged corruption in three cases.

The cases are related to the Panama Papers scandal that had forced the 68-year-old three-time prime minister to resign. Accompanied by daughter Maryam and son-in-law Mohammad Safdar, Sharif for the 15th time appeared in the court located in Islamabad.

During the hearing today, conducted by Judge Muhammad Bashir, Nawaz Sharif’s lawyer Khawaja Haris had raised an objection over the supplementary reference, saying there is nothing new in it. “The reference has been filed in line with the JIT report and no Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) report has so far been filed,” said Haris.

According to him, the NAB had said that a supplementary reference would be filed when new evidence is found against the suspects but that is not the case. “The supplementary reference had to be filed in reply to a legal consultation.”

Haris stressed that the supplementary reference was not as per the order of the top court and thus could not be accepted. “The supplementary reference was filed to target Sharif and even in that reference, the same allegations – already levelled in the interim reference – were repeated,” he said.

The three cases against the Sharif family pertain to the Al-Azizia Steel Mills, several companies including Flagship Investment Ltd, and London’s Avenfield properties. Sharif and his sons have been named in all three NAB cases, while Maryam and Safdar have been named only in the Avenfield case.

The accountability court also recorded more evidence against Sharif and later adjourned the hearing till February 2. Talking to media at the end of hearing, Sharif said everywhere there are cases against him. “Go out and you will see that today all cases in courts (of Pakistan) are about me,” he said.

His lawyer told media that supplementary case can be filed only if there is new evidence or allegations about some new property. “It shows that the first case was weak and NAB had to file a supplementary reference. But it is also based on old evidence and of new value,” he said

Minister of State for Information Marryium Aurangzeb said the supplementary reference showed that NAB filed the initial case in haste and without proper evidence. The political future of Sharif, who heads the country’s most powerful political family and the ruling PML-N party, has been hanging in the balance since his ouster. If convicted, he could be jailed. Sharif’s family alleges that the cases are politically motivated.

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