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Pakistan court gives ‘final chance’ to submit response in petition against Sharifs’ conviction

LAHORE: A Pakistani court Monday gave the anti-corruption body a final chance to file its response by Wednesday in a petition seeking the revocation of the sentence handed to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family in the Avenfield properties corruption case.

Sharif, 68, along with his daughter Maryam, 44, and his son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar, 54, are serving jail terms of 10 years, seven years and one year respectively in the Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi, after the accountability court convicted them on July 6 over the family’s ownership of four luxury flats in London through illegal means.

The three-judge bench of the Lahore High Court headed by Justice Shahid Waheed also announced that the court would hear the petition on a day-to-day basis, Dawn newspaper reported.

Noting the absence of the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) counsel in the court for the hearing, the bench ordered the bureau’s prosecutor to appear before it at the next hearing on August 29 and submit a reply on behalf of the NAB.

“NAB is being given the final chance to submit its reply,” the bench cautioned.

Before adjourning the hearing till August 29, the court rejected three separate applications filed by lawyers seeking to become party to the case.

Senior lawyer A.K. Dogar had filed the petition assailing the conviction of the Sharifs, besides challenging the existence of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999.

The ordinance was promulgated by the then military ruler Pervez Musharraf. According to its provisions, a member of the armed forces was immune from being proceeded.

The lawyer pleaded that ousted premier Sharif and others had been convicted by a court which had no jurisdiction because the law under which it had been created was a dead law.

He urged the Lahore High Court to suspend the operation of the accountability court’s judgement for being issued by a court that had been established under a non-existent law.

Three corruption cases were filed against Sharif and family last year following a decision by Supreme Court on July 28 of the same year.

The formal trial of the Sharif family started on September 14 and was to be completed in six months but later the deadline was extended at least thrice.

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