IHC to hear Nawaz's plea against Al-Azizia verdict on Jan 7

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) fixed January 7 as the date for the hearing of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s plea for the suspension of his sentence in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference.

A two-judge division bench comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Aamir Farooq will hear the former premier’s plea on Monday.

Earlier today, Nawaz’s counsel Munawar Iqbal Duggal submitted the former premier’s plea against his sentence for a third time after removing the registrar’s objections. In the plea, the IHC has been requested to grant bail to Nawaz until a decision on the appeal against the verdict is decided.

Nawaz had filed a plea in the IHC on January 1 against the sentence handed to him in the Al-Azizia corruption reference. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader had requested the court to suspend the sentence and to release him on bail. However, the IHC registrar had stated that the petition was incomplete and had returned it.

On January 3, Nawaz filed the plea again after addressing the objections. The IHC registrar, however, on Friday again raised objections and returned the plea.

On December 24, 2018, Accountability Court II Judge Arshad Malik had sentenced Nawaz to seven years in prison in the Al-Azizia corruption reference and acquitted him in the Flagship reference.

Al-Azizia reference details

Hussain Nawaz Sharif, the former prime minister’s elder son, claims that he received a sum of $5.4 million from his grandfather to establish the steel conglomerate in Saudi Arabia. The payment was made by a Qatari royal on the request of the elder Sharif. Thereafter, scrap machinery was transported from their Ahli Steel Mills in Dubai to Jeddah to establish Al-Azizia in 2001.

The JIT constituted to investigate the graft allegations insisted that the real owner of the mills was Nawaz Sharif, and it was being operated by his son on his behalf. Hussain was 29-years-old at the time. The JIT also held that Nawaz Sharif received 97 per cent profit as ‘gifts’ from Hill Metals Establishment, another company established by Hussain Nawaz Sharif in 2005, in Saudi Arabia.

Of the amount, Nawaz Sharif transferred 77 percent to his daughter, Maryam Nawaz Sharif. (Maryam is not accused in this reference). Here as well, the NAB claims that since Sharif received a large profit from Hussain’s companies, he is the real owner and not his son. However, during the proceedings the NAB could not substantiate its claim through documentary evidences and instead placed the burden of proof on the accused.