ISLAMABAD  -  Giving arguments in the appeals of Sharif family seeking transfer of the two remaining references against them from the court of AC Judge Muhammad Bashir to another court, the National Accountability Bureau prosecutor Monday contended before the Islamabad High Court that transfer of a case after indictment was not possible.

The two-member bench of the Islamabad High Court, comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, conducted hearing of the appeals of former premier Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Capt (r) Safdar.

During the proceedings, NAB Prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi, arguing against former Nawaz Sharif’s petition seeking transfer of his trial in the remaining two references to another accountability court, said once the accused was indicted, the reference could not be transferred.

He opposed the demand regarding change of judge, contending the references were at their last stages. “A judge cannot be separated from a case just for the reason that he has given a verdict on the previous one,” maintained the prosecutor. He added if this precedent was set, a new judge would have to be appointed for every other case.

Muzaffar continued that Muhammad Bashir had been hearing the case for the last 10 months and he was the most experienced judge among all the available judges. “A good lawyer can change the mind of the judge through strong arguments and better defence,” he said.

Judge Miangul observed evidences were interlinked in all the three references. “How can all these interlinked pieces of evidence be separated?” the judge asked. He added this case was not ordinary in nature and could not be compared to the cases they were hearing daily.

The hearing in this matter was adjourned until Tuesday while the NAB prosecutor will continue his arguments.

Earlier, the counsel for former premier Nawaz Sharif concluded his arguments while mentioning similarities among all the three references. He contended a new judge should hear the remaining corruption cases for an impartial and fair trial against his client.

He added, after announcing his verdict in one reference, the judge should not conduct hearing in the other two references. Harris asserted Nawaz had nothing to do with any properties mentioned in the corruption references. He added Nawaz’s children were dependants of their grandfather.

He also mentioned the similarities of the three references like common witnesses and defence. He pointed out Nawaz’s speech in the Parliament and address to the nation was a common piece of evidence in all the three cases.

Similarly, Harris maintained the sources of income chart in Volume IX of the JIT report as well as Hussain and Hassan Nawaz’s interviews were common pieces of evidence.

The counsel told the court that he had taken the same plea in all the three references against the Sharif family while the accountability court had given its verdict in one reference.

Harris said the accountability court had announced the verdict in the Avenfield reference while Al-Azizia and Flagship references were pending before it. “Our defence in all the three cases is quite similar and legal arguments are also the same,” he added.

He maintained the court had already observed that mostly children were dependents upon their parents, so how it could accept the same plea again.

It was July 6 when the accountability court had sentenced Nawaz to a total of 11 years in prison and slapped £8 million fine (Rs 1.3 billion) in corruption reference while his daughter Maryam was sentenced to eight years in jail with £2 million fine (Rs 335 million). Nawaz’s son-in-law Capt Safdar (r) was also given one-year sentence without any fine.

The Sharifs had challenged their convictions in the IHC, highlighting legal flaws in the Avenfield judgment, asking for revocation of the accountability court’s verdict and release of the three convicts on bail.

An additional petition was also filed, requesting the court to transfe Al-Azizia and Flagship Investment references against Nawaz from the court of Accountability Judge Muhammad Bashir to another accountability court.

The appeals stated Panama Papers’ joint investigation team head and the prosecution’s star witness, Wajid Zia, himself had accepted that response to the request of the mutual legal assistant (MLA) was not received. It further said levelling allegations without receiving a response to the MLA was mala fide.

The counsels of the convicts argued the prosecution’s witness, Robert Radley, not only stated that Calibri font was available for testing purposes but also admitted having downloaded and used the font which was available as pre-release of Windows Vista known as BETA-1 since 2005 while simultaneously admitting that he was neither a computer expert nor IT expert and computer geek.

Khawaja Harris contended that Accountability Court Judge Muhammad Bashir had disclosed his mind, so adjudication by that court would prejudice his client’s case.