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Friday Oct 12 2018

Sharifs’ corruption trial: SC grants 'final extension' to accountability court


ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Friday granted the final extension to the accountability court hearing two corruption references against the Sharif family. 

The apex court's deadline to conclude a corruption trial against the Sharifs had ended on October 7, after which, an extension plea had been submitted to the SC. 

A three-member bench of the top court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, was hearing the petition today. 

As the hearing went under way, Nawaz Sharif's legal counsel Khawaja Haris appeared before the apex court and requested an eight-week extension to conclude the Flagship Investment and Al-Azizia corruption references. 

The top court, however, rejected the plea, stating that it could not grant more than four weeks to conclude the cases.

Haris then requested the court to accept his plea. 'Please accept my request for once," he said. To this the chief justice responded by saying that Haris' requests had always been accepted, however, an impression contradicting the reality had been given.   

"You can work over the weekends if you want. If the corruption trial is not concluded till November 17, we will schedule hearings on Sundays as well," Justice Nisar said. 

Further, the chief justice remarked that the accountability court judge will be questioned if the trial is not wrapped up during the given time.  

Setting November 17 as the deadline for the accountability court to wrap up the Flagship Investment and Al-Azizia references, Justice Nisar remarked that SC will not grant further extensions to conclude the trial.  

According to sources, Judge Arshad Malik of Accountability Court II had written a letter to the SC to request an extension in the deadline. He had apprised the top court of the progress in the Al-Azizia and Flagship corruption references against the Sharif family.

On August 27, the Supreme Court had directed the accountability court to decide the Al Azizia and Flagship corruption references within six weeks.

So far, six extensions to wrap up the corruption references initiated by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) have been granted by the apex court. 

The Supreme Court had initially set a six-month deadline to conclude the four corruption references against the Sharif family.

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.