Judge Malik's case; Affidavit included in paper book of Nawaz's appeal against Al Azizia verdict

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) adjourned the hearing of an appeal filed by former premier Nawaz Sharif against his conviction in the Al Azizia corruption case.

A two-member bench, comprising Justice Aamir Farooq and Justice Mohsin Raza Kiyani, heard the case. The hearing was adjourned until October 7.

During the hearing, Nawaz’s counsel Khawaja Haris asked the court for a “verified copy” of a press release and an affidavit submitted in IHC by accountability judge Arshad Malik — who had convicted Nawaz in the Al Azizia reference — after a controversial video of the judge surfaced. The bench said that both items had been included in the file that was provided to Haris.

The court said that evidence provided by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) as well as Nawaz’s counsel had been included in the file and told Haris to tally the documents of the paper book with his own record.

During the hearing, Haris said that some documents were missing from the paper book. The court responded that if any document had been left out, the counsel can submit it later.

When asked how long it would take for Haris to conclude his arguments on the appeal, he said that he will wrap up in three months.

The court then directed that the copies of Malik’s press release and affidavit be provided to Haris as well as NAB’s counsel.

PML-N leaders, including party spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb, Raja Zafarul Haq, Ayaz Sadiq, Pervez Rashid were also present in the courtroom during the hearing.

Last year, Nawaz was handed a seven-year prison sentence by an accountability court. The court had also fined Nawaz Rs1.5 billion and US $25 million in the Al-Azizia reference. The former premier is currently in Kot Lakhpat jail.

The reference pertains to the Sharif family being unable to justify the source of the funds provided to set up Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment (HME) in Saudi Arabia, making this a case of owning assets beyond means.

The high court will also hear an appeal filed by the NAB against Nawaz’s acquittal in the Flagship corruption reference. He was acquitted by the same court that convicted him in the Al Azizia court.

Both judgements were authored by accountability judge Malik, who was recently removed from his position over the video leak scandal. Earlier this year, Nawaz’s daughter Maryam Nawaz had released a video clip in which Malik allegedly confessed that he had been “blackmailed” into convicting Sharif. Maryam, who is currently in Adiala jail, had called for an overturning of Nawaz’s conviction.

Malik was removed from his position after the video was released and has been repatriated to the Lahore High Court where disciplinary proceedings against him will be held.