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Tuesday Oct 02 2018

Al-Azizia reference: Khawaja Haris fails to appear in court on account of illness

Nawaz Sharif's defence counsel Khawaja Haris remained absent from today's proceedings on account of illness. Photo: Geo News file  

ISLAMABAD: An accountability court resumed hearing the Al-Azizia corruption reference on Tuesday. 

Former premier Nawaz Sharif appeared before the court today, however, his lawyer Khawaja Haris was absent. The defence counsel sent an application, stating he was ill.  

As the hearing went under way, Judge Arshad Malik remarked that a similar situation had occurred yesterday. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor then said that he had no objection to Haris' illness. 

Expressing his displeasure at the defence counsel's absence Judge Malik remarked that he had postponed all other cases for Al-Azizia reference. He further added that his entire day goes to waste when the lawyers fail to appear.    

Further, Judge Malik noted that the case had not made any progress in the present week. He further noted that the Supreme Court was yet to grant an extension to wrap up the corruption trial. 

Summoning witness Mehboob Alam tomorrow, Judge Malik adjourned the hearing till October 3. 

The trial

The trial against the Sharif family commenced on September 14, 2017.

On July 6, after four extensions in the original six-month deadline to conclude all three cases, the court announced its verdict in the Avenfield reference.

Nawaz and his sons, Hussain and Hasan, are accused in all three references whereas Maryam and Safdar were 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.

On July 10, the Supreme Court granted another six-week extension for Accountability Court-I Judge Mohammad Bashir to conclude the remaining corruption references against Nawaz and former finance minister Ishaq Dar.