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IHC to take up pleas of NAB, Nawaz on Jan 21

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court will take up on Jan 21 appeals filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against the acquittal of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the Flagship Investment reference and for enhancement of his sentence from seven years to 14 years in the Al-Azizia reference.

A two-judge IHC bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani will also hear an appeal of Mr Sharif against his conviction in the Al-Azizia reference as well as a petition seeking suspension of the sentence in this reference the same day.

An accountability court had on Dec 24 last year convicted Mr Sharif in the Al-Azizia/Hill Metal Establishment reference, sentenced him to seven years in prison and fined him Rs1.5 billion and $25 million. Accountability court judge Mohammad Arshad Malik, however, acquitted the former prime minister in the Flagship Investment reference.

Mr Sharif’s appeal argued that certain observations made by the accountability court judge were against the “principles governing administration of criminal justice in Pakistan, and of the principle of fair trial as guaranteed to all citizens of the country by Article 10-A of the Constitution”. It pointed out that the judge had used a word “beneficial owner” for the accused despite the fact that this word was never mentioned in the National Accountability Ordinance.

On the other hand, NAB argued in its appeal that the accountability court did not consider evidence in the Flagship Investment reference and in the Al-Azizia reference. The bureau argued that the court took a lenient view and awarded seven-year sentence to the former premier, instead of maximum 14 years.

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