Islamabad: Pakistan’s Supreme Court today extended by two months the deadline given to the anti-corruption court to complete hearing of graft cases against ousted premier Nawaz Sharif and his family in the Panama Papers scandal.
In its July 28, 2017 ruling in the Panama Papers case, the apex court had given the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) six months to complete its proceedings on the corruption cases against members of the Sharif family.
Acting on the apex court’s order, NAB had initially filed four cases against the Sharifs and former finance minister Ishaq Dar.
Three cases were registered on September 8 against Sharif, 68, and his family and one case against Dar.
The Supreme Court today granted three-month extension to the trial court to conclude the corruption case against Dar.
The trial of the accused started on September 14, 2017 and the deadline was expiring on March 13. But it had become clear that the Accountability Court in Islamabad would not be able to wrap up the proceedings on time.
The NAB prosecutor general approached a three-member bench of Supreme Court with the plea to extend the deadline.
The bench is headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan are its members.
After hearing the argument by NAB, the judges granted extension of two months in cases of Sharif and his family and three months in case of Dar.
Justice Ijazul Ahsan said the trial court did not provide any timeframe to complete the cases, but NAB informed the court that two months were needed in Dar’s case whereas one month in Sharifs cases.
The court granted more time than requested by NAB.
Apart from Sharif, his daughter Maryam, son-in-law Muhammad Safdar and two sons Hassan and Hussain are accused in three cases which include the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment, Flagship Investment Ltd and Avenfield properties of London.
Maryam and Safdar are co-accused only in Avenfield case and are facing trial along with Sharif.
But Sharif’s sons never appeared in the court and were declared absconders.
The court also observed that their trial will be held separately.
Separately, Sharif along with Maryam and Safdar today appeared in the accountability court in Islamabad, which is hearing the three cases against them.
Sharif was later allowed to leave the court after his lawyer informed Judge Muhammad Bashir that the former prime minister was not feeling well.