Nawaz Sharif indicted in Flagship Investments reference, pleads not guilty

nawaz sharif

An accountability court on Friday indicted ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif in a reference related to Flagship Investments and other offshore companies.

The court charged Sharif in absentia for holding assets beyond his known sources of income, and read out a charge-sheet to his pleader, Zafir Khan.

Khan pleaded not guilty on behalf of Sharif, who is currently in London tending to his ailing wife.

According to the charge-sheet, Sharif told the joint investigation team that he was a shareholder in 15 companies, including Flagship Invest­ments, Hartstone Properties, Que Holdings, Quint Eaton Place 2, Quint Saloane, Quaint, Flagship Securities, Quint Gloucester Place, Quint Paddington, Flagship Developments, Alanna Services (BVI), Lankin SA (BVI), Chadron, Ansbacher, Coomber and Capital FZE, Dubai.

The court was told that his sons, Hassan and Hussain were his dependents in 1989 and 1990. However, Sharif, submitted a record of assets for Hassan from 1990-1995, the charge-sheet read.

The charge-sheet observed that Sharif had held important positions in public office, including those of chief minister and prime minister.

On Thursday, accountability court Judge Mohammad Bashir indicted Sharif in the Avenfield Properties and Al-Azizia Company references through his pleader, while charges against Maryam Nawaz Sharif and her husband, retired Captain Muhammad Safdar were framed in the Avenfield reference in their presence.

The Sharif family pleaded not guilty to the charges, claiming that they were denied the fundamental right to a fair trial.

As per Sharif’s pleader, the Supreme Court’s judgement of July 28 in the Panama Papers case was “unprecedented” and denied him his “fundamental rights which the Constitution guaranteed for every citizen for being treated in accordance with law”.

According to the former three-time prime minister, the apex court’s directions to conclude the trial within six months and the appointment of a monitoring judge to supervise the trial was against constitutional provisions that ensured the dignity of citizens and the right to fair and transparent proceedings.

The pleader read out Sharif’s statement after the accountability judge read out charges against him in the Avenfield Properties reference.

Likewise, Maryam also came to the rostrum when the judge started reading charges against her. She pleaded not guilty and said: “I wish to declare that I refuse to accept the charge sheet.”

She said that the allegations against her were based on a frivolous report, prepared by a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) with mala fide intentions, adding that the report itself was a mockery of justice.

“We have been denied the right to a fair trial, which is a fundamental right for every citizen and the former prime minister and his family are not exceptions.”

Capt Safdar also pleaded not guilty.

Sharif family’s applications dismissed

Earlier, the same court dismissed four applications filed by the Sharif family, one after another.

One application sought the provision of Volume 10 of the JIT report, while another asked for the statement of three witnesses: National Bank of Pakistan CEO Saeed Ahmed, Javed Kayani and Basharat Ahmed Shahzad.

A third application was filed to stay trial proceedings since the ex-PM had filed a petition before the Supreme Court to convert the three references into one.

A fourth application, meanwhile, asked the accountability court to consolidate all prosecution evidence for the expeditious disposal of the case.

The Accountability Court judge heard these applications at successive intervals and dismissed them all one after the other.

The main reason for the dismissal was the apex court’s judgement of July 28, which directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to file separate references against Sharif.

NAB Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi opposing the handing over of Volume 10 of the JIT report to the accused, saying that the apex court deliberately did not provide it to them.

Source: Dawn

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