The accountability court on Thursday wrapped up the first hearing in the Avenfield flats reference after grilling ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s guranteer about his absence from the hearing.
The court issued bailable arrest warrants for ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif in two other references — the Flagship Investment reference and the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment reference — while adjourning the hearing for the Avenfield until November 3.
The court had indicted Nawaz, Maryam Nawaz and Captain Mohammad Safdar on October 19 in connection with a reference pertaining to the Avenfield flats filed against them by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Sharif was indicted separately indicted in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment references.
All three accused pleaded not guilty to the charges. Hassan and Hussain Nawaz were named co-accused in the charge sheet in the references.
As the hearing began, Sharif’s lawyer filed an application for the defendant’s exemption from the trial hearings for a week. It was, however, rejected by the court.
Capt Safdar arrived at the court a little earlier than his wife who made her way to the court directly after arriving in Islamabad from Lahore. “We are going through a time in Pakistan where speaking up against injustice is called contempt of court and speaking up for the nation is called treason, but I still believe that we will be victorious,” said Maryam outside the court.
Sharif failed to appear in court today as he is currently in Saudi Arabia with his mother where they performed Umra.
According to sources close to the former PM, he met some members of the Saudi royal family on Wednesday, a development which some PML-N insiders described as “positive”.
A close source to the former PM told Dawn on Wednesday that “Mian sahib met important persons in Saudi Arabia”, and had decided to extend his stay in the Kingdom in the light of those meetings.
Earlier, Sharif had changed his plan to return to Lahore from London and flew to Jeddah instead after some of his friends there assured him that they would arrange his meetings with certain influential people.
Hassan Nawaz had earlier announced that his father would arrive in Pakistan on Wednesday ahead of the court hearing.
A five-member bench of the Supreme Court on July 28 had directed NAB to file references against Nawaz and his children in six weeks in the accountability court and directed the trial court to decide the references within six months.
The Supreme Court also assigned Justice Ijazul Ahsan a supervisory role to monitor the progress of the accountability court proceedings.
The former premier and his sons, Hassan and Hussain, have been named in all three NAB references, while Maryam and husband Safdar have been named only in the Avenfield reference.