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Accountability court rejects petition to transfer Al-Azizia reference

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: An accountability court rejected the petition of transferring the Al-Azizia corruption case against the Sharif family from Judge Muhammad Bashir’s court on Thursday.

The deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members are facing three corruption references in the accountability court including Avenfield Properties, Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Flagship Investments,

Nawaz Sharif’s lawyer Khawaja Haris and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi appeared in the accountability court.

During the hearing, Khawaja Haris then requested the court to issue an order on the transfer request. Judge Bashir responded by saying that he did not have the mandate to transfer the reference after indictment. The defence then requested for the hearing to be adjourned till Tuesday so it could contact the relevant forum.

Remarking that only the high court held the mandate to transfer the case, Judge Bashir rejected the transfer petition.

The hearing was then adjourned till July 17.

The corruption references, filed against the Sharifs, pertain to the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment, offshore companies including Flagship Investment Limited, and Avenfield properties of London.

Nawaz and his sons, Hussain and Hasan, are accused in all three references whereas his daughter Maryam and son-in-law Safdar are 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.

The Supreme Court had originally set a deadline of six months to conclude the cases. The court originally had a deadline of six months which ended in mid-March but was extended for two months after the judge requested the apex court. Later, the deadline was extended twice more, to around July 10.

On July 10, the Supreme Court extended the deadline in the high-profile case for the fourth time, granting Accountability Court-I Judge Mohammad Bashir a six-week extension to conclude the corruption references.

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