Nawaz’s pleas in Al Azizia, Avenfield corruption references dismissed by IHC

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Islamabad – Staff Reporter:

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday rejected former prime minister and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif’s appeals against his convictions by an accountability court in the Avenfield and Al-Azizia references.

An IHC division bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani had reserved the decision a day earlier after hearing the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) additional prosecutor general Jahanzeb Khan Bharwana and amici Azam Nazir Tarrar and Makhdoom Hussain.

Bharwana had cited the Supreme Court’s 1985 judgement on Hayat Khan in which the bench observed that an absconder loses rights guaranteed in the Constitution including the right of audience.

In its nine-page judgement released today, the IHC stated that since Nawaz was a “fugitive from law hence has lost his right of audience before this court and we are left with no choice except to dismiss his appeal”.

“There is nothing in the Constitution or the Rules to compel the court to decide on merits an appeal filed by an accused person who has chosen to be fugitive from justice and while remaining so decides to disobey or frustrate the orders, directions and process of the court from which he seeks justice,” it added.

The judgement noted that Nawaz had been provided with a “fair trial” and he was convicted only after the trial court had provided him with the opportunity to plead his case and cross-examine the prosecution witnesses.

“[Nawaz] proceeded abroad and did not appear before this court despite [being] on bail and without any justification or basis, remained absent on a number of dates of hearing, hence this court was left with no option but to follow the procedure … and declared him as fugitive from law,” the judgement further said.

The high court has upheld the sentences given by the accountability court in the corruption references.

Nawaz Sharif’s appeals have been rejected after the ex-premier was declared a proclaimed offender, the verdict read, adding that the proclaimed offender could submit his appeal by appearing himself while the hearings on such appeals could not be conducted if the offender fails to appear in it.

It may be noted that Sharif had issued proclamations against the former prime minister in October last year and directed him to surrender himself in 30 days.

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