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Pakistan court rejects Sharif’s plea to club graft cases

The accountability court here on Wednesday dismissed former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s plea for clubbing three corruption references filed against him by the anti-graft body in the so-called Panama Papers scandal.

Sharif was indicted separately in each of the three references pertaining to Avenfield properties in London, Flagship Investment and Azizia Steel Mills. He pleaded “not guilty” to all the charges, Dawn online reported.

Sharif said he was deprived of a fair trial and basic rights. Talking to media persons outside the court, he said: “I knew the decision will not be in my favour because these judges are exploding with grudge and anger and their anger is evident from their words used in the verdict.”

The former Premier will now have to face three separate trials with hearings continuing for months. Accountability Court Judge Muhammad Bashir said Sharif would be given fair trial under the law and then postponed the hearing till November 15.

Referring to the apex court’s detailed verdict in his review petitions on the Panama case, he further said the words that were used would become “dark chapter in history”.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued a 23-page detailed verdict saying that Sharif tried to fool the court and people, both inside and outside of Parliament, and never came up before the court with the whole truth.

The National Accountability Bureau had registered three cases of corruption and money laundering against the former Premier, his family members and another against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in light of the Supreme Court’s orders in the Panama Papers case verdict of July 28.

Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain Mohammad Safdar (retd) were present in the accountability court to hear the verdict. The court also decided on an application filed by Maryam and her husband for deletion of a charge related to the use of Calibri font in a document in February 2006 when that font did not exist.

The court ordered the removal of Section 3(a) of National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999 dealing with forgery from the charges against the couple.

According to reports, it is not clear whether the former Premier would be present during the next hearing as he has already filed an application to let him appoint his pleader to represent him in his absence.