ISLAMABAD - The counsel for former prime minister Nawaz Sharif Thursday concluded his arguments while mentioning similarities among all the three references before the Islamabad High Court in appeals of Sharif family seeking transfer of two remaining references against them from the court of AC judge Muhammad Bashir to another court.

The dual bench of IHC comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb conducted hearing of the appeals of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Captain (retd) Safdar and adjourned the hearing till August 6 (Monday) after Nawaz Sharif’s counsel Khawaja Haris concluded his arguments in this matter.

Due to Khwaja Haris’s prolong arguments in the petition to transfer the Al-Azizia and Flagship references against his client to another accountability court, the bail pleas filed by Nawaz Sharif, Maryam and Safdar could not be taken up.

During the court’s proceeding, he adopted that for an impartial and fair trial, a fresh judge needs to be assigned to hear the remaining corruption cases against his client.

He added that it is not a matter of dishonesty rather it is a matter of partiality and impartiality. He added that after announcing his verdict in one reference, the judge should not conduct hearing in other two references.

In his arguments, Haris asserted that Nawaz has nothing to do with any properties mentioned in the corruption references, adding that Nawaz’s children were dependants of their grandfather.

He also mentioned the similarities of the three references, including common witnesses and defence. He pointed that Nawaz’s speech in the Parliament and address to the nation is a common piece of evidence in all the three cases.

Similarly, Haris maintained that the sources of income chart in Volume IX of the JIT report, as well as Hussain and Hasan Nawaz’s interviews are common pieces of evidence. 

After conclusion of Haris’ arguments, the IHC dual bench adjourned the hearing in this matter till Monday for further proceedings. 

Previously, the counsel had adopted before the court that he has taken the same plea in all the three references against the Sharif family while the accountability court has given its verdict in one reference. He added: “Our defence in all the three references is the same.”

Haris said that the accountability court has announced the verdict in the Avenfield reference case while Al-Azizia and Flagship references are pending before the court. “Our defence in all three cases is quite similar and the legal arguments are also the same,” he said.

He maintained that the court has already commented that mostly the children are dependent upon parents and how can it hear the same matter again.

It was July 6 when an accountability court had sentenced Nawaz to a total of 11 years in prison and slapped a £8 million fine (Rs1.3 billion) in corruption reference, while his daughter Maryam was sentenced to eight years with a £2 million fine (Rs 335 million). Nawaz’s son-in-law Captain Safdar (retd) was also given a one-year sentence without any fine.

The Sharifs had challenged their convictions in the IHC, highlighting the legal flaws in the Avenfield judgment and asking for the accountability court’s verdict may be declared null and void and the three convicts may be released on bail.

An additional petition was also filed requesting the court to transfer the Al-Azizia and Flagship Investment references against Nawaz from the court of Accountability Judge Mohammad Bashir to another accountability court.

The appeals stated that the Panama Papers joint investigation team (JIT) head and prosecution’s star witness Wajid Zia himself accepted that a response to the mutual legal assistance (MLA) request was not received. It further said that levelling allegations without receiving a response to the MLA was mala fide.

The legal counsels of the convicts argued that the prosecution’s witness Robert Radley not only stated that Calibri font was available for testing purposes but he also admitted having downloaded and used the Calibri font which was available as pre-release of Windows Vista known as BETA-1 since the year 2005 while simultaneously admitting that he was neither a computer expert nor an IT expert or a computer geek.

Nawaz’s counsel Khawaja Haris Advocate adopted that Accountability Court Judge Muhammad Bashir has disclosed his mind therefore adjudication by the Accountability Court would prejudice his client case.