Court acquits Nawaz in Flagship, awards 7-year jail in Al-Azizia reference

Court acquits Nawaz in Flagship, awards 7-year jail in Al-Azizia reference

Islamabad (Staff Report): An accountability court on Monday acquitted ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif in Flagship reference, while awarded 7-year jail in Al-Azizia corruption reference.

The court also imposed $2.5 million in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference.

The supreme leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was arrested from the court. The court accepted former premier's request and ordered to shifted him Kot Lakhpat Jail Lahore instead of Adiala Jail. 

 Judge Arshad Malik announced the verdict in the references, which was reserved last week, against the Sharif family.

Nawaz arrived in Islamabad from Lahore on Sunday and heard the judgement in the courtroom.

Entry to the court has been restricted except those having permission of the registrar.

 The judge, while hearing the concluding arguments in the Flagship reference against Nawaz, had ordered the parties to give additional arguments on the Supreme Court decision in the references until 1pm on Wednesday.

Counsel for Nawaz Sharif Khawaja Haris sought more time to submit more documents in the Flagship case, but the court rejected the plea. However, the court permitted to submit the additional document within two days.

NAB had concluded its final arguments in the Flagship Investment reference against the former PM on Tuesday, the third and last reference against the PML-N leader. NAB had wrapped up its arguments in the Al-Azizia reference earlier this month.

On December 7, the Supreme Court had directed the accountability court to conclude the cases by December 24, after previously granting it seven extensions to wrap up the references initiated by NAB.

Accountability Court Judge Arshad Malik who has been hearing the Al-Azizia and Flagship Investment references against the former PM wrote a letter to the top court and sought an extension in the deadline to conclude the cases.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Mian Saqib Nisar heard the accountability court judge's petition.

The top court fixed the AC’s petition for immediate hearing and summoned former PM’s lawyer Khawaja Haris.

During the hearing, the CJP asked the counsel for Nawaz Sharif Khawaja Haris that he should conclude the arguments by December 17 as this was the eighth extension granted to NAB court in this regard.

The court then directed Haris to complete his arguments by 4pm on December 17 and ordered the accountability court to announce a decision by December 24.

On November 19, the SC had granted three weeks to the accountability court to conclude the Al-Azizia reference filed by NAB against the former PM.

As many as three references have been filed against the former premier in line with the directives of the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case verdict, a decision that ousted Nawaz Sharif from the PM House in July last year.

On July 6, the accountability court awarded ousted premier to 10 years and Maryam Nawaz to 7 years imprisonment in the Avenfield corruption reference, while Capt (retd) Safdar was handed one year jail term in the case.

The court ordered to confiscate the property in question, suggesting the government to do legislation to bring plundered money back to the country.