Islamabad: Pakistan's anti-graft court on Wednesday rejected ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif's plea for clubbing together three corruption cases filed against him by the country's anti-corruption watchdog in the Panama Papers scandal.
After the announcement of the judgement, Sharif was indicted separately in each of the three graft cases stemming from the Panama Papers leaks.
Now, 67-year-old Sharif will have to face three separate trials with hearings stretching out for months.
The former prime minister pleaded not guilty to all the charges and contented that he was being deprived of the fair trial as the court was moving in a hurry to decide the case in six months as per direction of the Supreme Court.
Rejecting the plea, Accountability Court Judge Muhammad Bashir said that Sharif would be given fair trial under the law and then postponed the hearing till 15 November.
Following the judgement, Sharif told media that the verdict would be written in "black words" in Pakistan's history.
"I knew that review petition will not be decided in my favour because the judges (who issued the verdict in review petition) are full of vengeance and the decision reflects vengeance and anger. This will become part of black pages of history.
"There are several black pages in the last 70 years of Pakistan history when there were dictators. This judgement (of review petition) will also be written in black words, he said.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has registered three cases of corruption and money laundering against Sharif, his family members and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in the Islamabad Accountability Court.
The cases were registered after the Supreme Court disqualified Sharif as prime minister on 28 July in the Panama Papers scandal.
Sharif, his daughter Maryam and her husband Muhammad Safdar were present in the court to hear the verdict.
The accountability court had reserved its judgement yesterday after hearing the arguments by both sides.
The accountability court on 19 October rejected a similar application by Sharif to convert three cases into one. The rejection was challenged in the IHC which referred the case to accountability court with direction to reconsider it.
The Supreme Court said the disqualification of Sharif was "uncontroversial" and issued a detailed verdict rejecting review petitions filed by the Sharif family in the Panama Papers case.
In its detailed 23-page verdict, the apex court observed that no error has been identified in the Panama case, which could be reviewed and the accountability court is free to make a decision on the basis of nature of evidence.
It is not clear whether Sharif would be present during the next hearing as he has already filed an application to let him appoint his pleader to represent him in his absence.
The court has yet to decide the case.
Published Date: Nov 08, 2017 01:08 pm | Updated Date: Nov 08, 2017 01:10 pm