Accountability court orders Nawaz to hire new legal counsel till June 19

 
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ISLAMABAD, June 12 (TNS): An accountability court on Tuesday ordered former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to hire new legal counsel till June 19 as Khawaja Harris distanced himself from corruption cases owing to ‘dictation’ from the Supreme Court.

Harris on Monday recused himself from the cases pertain to the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment, offshore companies including Flagship Investment Ltd, and Avenfield properties of London filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against members of Sharif family.

Judge Mohammad Bashir resumed hearing of the cases as Nawaz Sharif reached the accountability court for trial without any counsel.

During the hearing, the judge asked Nawaz if he wanted to hire new lawyer or continue with Haris, adding that the withdrawal request has not been accepted so far.

Nawaz replied that it was not easy to take the decision in this regard. Later, the court directed the former premier to arrange new lawyer in a week and adjourned the hearing.

The three-time prime minister then lamented that his counsel had informed the court of his inability to attend court on Saturdays and Sundays.

On Monday, Judge Mohammad Bashir had also asked the former prime minister to hire a new lawyer till Tuesday after Harris withdrew from the cases representation; however, the latter expressed reservations on it saying it would not be possible to arrange the counsel in a short time.

During the hearing of Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference, Harris said that he has taken the decision of not representing Nawaz in the cases as the Supreme Court did not accept his stance, he was referring to orders passed by the apex court on Sunday.

The corruption references, filed against the Sharifs, pertain to the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment, offshore companies including Flagship Investment Ltd, and Avenfield properties of London.

Announcing his decision to withdraw his legal services to Nawaz, Haris said the apex court had dictated the trial court to conclude the cases within a month. He has submitted the plea to withdrawn his wakalatnama.

In a written note to the apex court, Haris said that the top court had not accepted his viewpoint on the three references. “As a professional lawyer, I think the concluding arguments for all of the three references could be presented together,” he maintained.

The lawyer further remarked that he was dictated to work beyond court hours and during off days – Saturday and Sunday.

Harris, who represented Nawaz for nine months in the cases, said that he could not work under such circumstances.

Withdrawing the legal services may cause a delay in the cases till the former premier hires a new counsel to represent the case.

Harris was set to cross-examine the prosecution witness, Wajid Zia, head of the Panamgate joint investigation team (JIT), in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference today.

During the hearing, Judge Mohammad Bashir called Nawaz to the rostrum and asked about his new counsel, to which, the three-time prime minister said: “I can tell you about it after consultation”.

The accountability judge has given one-day to Nawaz Sharif to decide on the matter. Following the abrupt development, the court has adjourned the case until next Tuesday.