NAB references: Nawaz, Maryam granted exemption from appearance

Legal fraternity assures support to ex-PM Nawaz Sharif in his struggle for democracy and sanctity of vote

Court reserves verdict on Nawaz, Maryam exemption pleas as hearing adjourned till Nov 22

Accountability Court Judge Muhammad Bashir while conducting proceedings against former Prime Minister's sons recorded the statements of three NAB investigators - Muhammad Kamran in the Flagship reference, Mehboob Alam in Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metals Establishment reference and Imran Doghar in Avenfield properties.

In her application, Maryam said that she will attend the hearing whenever the court will summon her. Four witnesses have been summoned for the next hearing.

As the trial began, the NAB prosecution presented its first two witnesses in court ─ Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) Joint Registrar Sidra Mansoor and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Inland Revenue Department representative, Jahangir Ahmad ─ both of whom recorded their statements.

In late July the Supreme Court sacked Sharif following an investigation into corruption allegations against his family, making him the 15th premier in Pakistan's 70-year history to be ousted before completing a full term.

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Earlier, the court had issued perpetual warrants for Hussain and Hassan Nawaz's arrest and separated their trial from other members of the family.

"The records that NAB has presented in court hold my signatures and thumb impressions", Mansoor told the court, adding that, among other things, the records also contained audit reports of the Sharif family's various businesses. Subsequently, the court adjourned the hearing, saying to announce the verdict on Wednesday.

As the 30-day deadline given to Hussain and Hassan Nawaz to appear before the accountability court hearing corruption cases against them expired on Nov 10, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) during Tuesday's hearing had requested the accountability court to seize the properties of the scions of the Sharif family.

Earlier, court reserved judgment on former prime minister plea seeking clubbing of all the three corruption references against him, after hearing arguments from both defence and prosecution counsels.

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The anti-graft body was given six weeks, from the date of the apex court's order, to file the reference in an accountability court while the accountability court was granted six months to wrap up the proceedings.

Maryam and Safdar are only nominated in the London properties reference.

On Nov 8, Judge Mohammad Bashir had turned down a peal filed by Sharif to club the references filed by the NAB.

Safdar was also directed to take the court's permission before leaving the country from now on.

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If convicted, the accused may face up to 14 years imprisonment and lifelong disqualification from holding public office including the freezing of bank accounts and assets.

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