ISLAMABAD: The accountability court on Thursday wrapped up the first hearing in the Avenfield flats reference after grilling ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s guranteer about his absence from the hearing.

Nawaz Sharif’s representative submitted three pleas pertaining to exemption from the court or 7 days and to stop trial court proceedings. A medical report of Sharif’s wife was also submitted to the court. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor said that Nawaz Sharif is deliberately not appearing in the court; therefore, his arrest warrant should be issued.

While rejecting all pleas, the judge said that former PM is being given last chance to appear in the court on November 3 and if he fails to attend the hearing then non-bailable arrest warrant will be issued against him.

The court issued bailable arrest warrants for ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif in two other references — the Flagship Investment reference and the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment reference — while adjourning the hearing for the Avenfield until November 3.

Two witnesses were expected to record their statements today. One of the witnesses is from Security Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and another from Federal Board of Revenue (FBR). However, the witnesses could not testify against Sharif family member in absence of the former premier.

The court had indicted Nawaz, Maryam Nawaz and Captain Mohammad Safdar on October 19 in connection with a reference pertaining to the Avenfield flats filed against them by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Sharif was separately indicted in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment references.

All three accused pleaded not guilty to the charges. Hassan and Hussain Nawaz were named co-accused in the charge sheet in the references.

As the hearing began, Sharif’s lawyer filed an application for the defendant’s exemption from the trial hearings for a week. It was, however, rejected by the court.

NAB prosecutor Imran Shafiq opposed granting exemption to the former prime minister.  He prayed the court to suspend the surety bonds of Nawaz Sharif and issue warrants for his arrest.

He said court had given 15 days time and the accused should have been here now. It seems as if accused is taking the court easy.

Counsel for Nawaz Sharif said former prime minister is with his mother in Saudi Arabia. His wife has to undergo blood transfusion process. Medical report of  Begum Kalsoom Nawaz was also filed in the court.

Capt Safdar arrived at the court a little earlier than his wife who made her way to the court directly after arriving in Islamabad from Lahore. “We are going through a time in Pakistan where speaking up against injustice is called contempt of court and speaking up for the nation is called treason, but I still believe that we will be victorious,” said Maryam outside the court.

Sharif failed to appear in court today as he is currently in Saudi Arabia with his mother where they performed Umra.

The court, in the previous hearing, had allowed exemption to Nawaz Sharif from appearing before it for 15 days, which had already expired on Oct 24.
Police and FC had been deployed at and around the judicial complex to ensure security.

A five-member bench of the Supreme Court on July 28 had directed NAB to file references against Nawaz and his children in six weeks in the accountability court and directed the trial court to decide the references within six months.

The Supreme Court also assigned Justice Ijazul Ahsan a supervisory role to monitor the progress of the accountability court proceedings.

The former premier and his sons, Hassan and Hussain, have been named in all three NAB references, while Maryam and husband Safdar have been named only in the Avenfield reference.