ISLAMABAD - The Accountability Court-I Judge Mohammad Bashir Monday adjourned the hearing of the Al Azizia and Flagship corruption references against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif till August 1 (tomorrow).

During the hearing, the court inquired into the presence of Nawaz’s counsel Khawaja Haris. His colleague then informed the court that the counsel was on his way.

When the judge asked when the Islamabad High Court (IHC) will take up the Sharif family’s pleas against the Avenfield verdict, the secondary counsel replied that their appeals will be heard Tuesday (today).

The judge then decided to briefly adjourn today’s hearing to allow Nawaz’s counsel to appear in court before he takes matters forward.

On the other hand, the divisional bench of the Islamabad High Court comprising Justice Amir Farooq and Justice Gul Hassan Aurangzeb will hear the appeals filed by ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain (r) M Safdar against their conviction in the Avenfield reference on July 31.

The court has sent notices to their lawyers for July 31. A bench had issued a notice to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on the appeals seeking to set aside the accountability court’s judgement that awarded 10 years imprisonment to Sharif, seven years to Maryam and one year to Safdar.

It rejected their request to grant bail at that time and issued notices to NAB to submit its reply to the application seeking to suspend their conviction.

The bench also directed the authorities concerned to present the complete record of the Avenfield case on next hearing. The judges also turned down a request by the appellants’ lawyer Khawaja Haris to grant a stay order, restraining Accountability Judge Muhammad Bashir from proceeding with the two pending cases against his clients till NAB submits its response.

The counsel argued that the judge, who convicted Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law, cannot hear the other two cases against them as their arguments in these cases are similar to the ones in the Avenfield case. The trial against the Sharif family had commenced on September 14, 2017 after NAB filed the Avenfield, Al Azizia and Flagship references.

On July 6, after four extensions in the original six-month deadline to conclude all three cases, the court announced its verdict in the Avenfield reference. Nawaz was sentenced to a total of 11 years in prison and slapped a £8 million fine (Rs1.3 billion) while Maryam was sentenced to eight years with a £2 million fine (Rs335 million). Moreover, Maryam’s husband, Capt (retd) Safdar, was sentenced to one year in prison. Nawaz and his sons, Hussain and Hasan, are accused in all three references whereas Maryam and Safdar were accused in the Avenfield reference only.

The two brothers, based abroad, have been absconding since the proceedings began last year and were declared proclaimed offenders by the court.