An accountability court on Monday adjourned the hearing of the Al Azizia corruption reference against former premier Nawaz Sharif and his sons until July 12.
Accountability judge Mohammad Bashir adjourned the hearing after defence lawyer Khawaja Haris pointed out that the evidence of Al Azizia reference was similar to that of the Avenfield reference — the verdict of which was passed by the accountability court on Friday.
Therefore, Haris said, the judge should recuse himself from the case, arguing that since the evidence in both the cases was similar, the verdict in Al Azizia reference could be the same.
In the reference regarding the high-end London properties, the court on Friday had sentenced Nawaz to prison for 10 years and slapped him with a £8 million fine; his daughter was sentenced to seven years in prison and fined £2 million.
Nawaz’s son-in-law Mohammad Safdar was given one year in prison; he was arrested on Sunday by NAB officials.
Judge Bashir agreed to refer the matter to Islamabad High Court (IHC). If the high court deems Haris’ arguments valid, the case will be transferred to another accountability court.
The IHC holds the authority to transfer such cases to another court.
Judge Bashir also said that he would write to the Supreme Court to request more time for the Al Azizia and Flagship corruption references, both filed against the Sharif family.
Nawaz and his sons Hasan and Hussain, were indicted in the Al Azizia corruption reference for allegedly being involved in money laundering, tax evasion and hiding offshore assets. The reference was one of the three filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in accordance with Supreme Court’s verdict of the Panama Papers case last year.
The three are also named in the Flagship reference, in which they are accused of using 16 companies “to manage/acquire expensive properties” that include Flagship investments and Hill Metal Company.
Nawaz and his daughter Maryam are currently in London and are scheduled to return on July 13.