Al-Aziza, Flagship verdicts; IHC fixes Sept 18 for hearing Nawaz, NAB appeals

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Staff Report

ISLAMABAD

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Saturday fixed September 18 as the date of hearing of an appeal filed by former premier Nawaz Sharif against his conviction in the Al-Azizia corruption reference.

Contrarily, on the same date, the court will take up an appeal filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against Sharif’s acquittal in the Flagship Investments corruption reference.

A two-member bench comprising of Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani are scheduled to hear the appeals.

Verdicts in both corruption references were announced by an accountability court judge Arshad Malik. Due to summer vacations, the hearings have been set in the month of September.

The schedule of hearings comes a day after the law ministry barred judge Arshad Malik from serving as an accountability court judge after a leaked video claimed that the judge ruled against the former PM under pressure from certain quarters.

Though, the statement was denied by the judge, Arshad Malik, in a press release and later an affidavit, he was still repatriated to the Lahore High Court.

In the backdrop of Malik’s removal, the PML-N was gunning for an immediate hearing on Nawaz’s appeal against the Al-Azizia conviction.

However, the ex-PM now faces a wait of a little over two months as the IHC’s summer vacations run from July 8 to September 9.

Last year in December, accountability court Judge Arshad Malik convicted Sharif in the Al-Azizia reference and sentenced him to seven years in jail. However, the judge acquitted him in the Flagship Investments case. The accountability court had also fined Nawaz Rs1.5 billion and US $25 million in the Al-Azizia reference. The three-time former PM is currently serving his sentence in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat Jail.

Following his conviction, the former premier approached the Supreme Court requesting it to grant him permission to travel abroad for medical treatment. The court, however, rejected the bail petition of Sharif. The apex court in its judgement had also suggested that Sharif’s counsel can approach appropriate forum to file his request. The PML-N leader had then filed an application in the high court.

Earlier in July 2017, the Supreme Court disqualified Nawaz in the Panama Papers case and ordered NAB to file separate cases which were respectively called Avenfiled, Al-Azizia and Flagship references.