Islamabad, Jul 17: In a surprise move, an anti-corruption court judge, who had sentenced Nawaz Sharif to 10 years in prison in a graft case, has recused himself from hearing two other corruption cases against the jailed former prime minister of Pakistan.
Justice Muhammad Bashir of the Islamabad Accountability Court, in a letter, addressed to Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Anwar Khan Kasi, said that the Al-Azizia steel mills and the Flagship corruption cases should be transferred to some other judge, according to the IHC sources.
In the letter, the judge said that he had no objection if the cases were transferred as he could not hear these cases, they said. The move came on the heels of filing of separate appeals by Sharif, 68, his daughter Maryam, 44, and son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar, challenging the accountability court verdict.
Earlier, Sharif's lawyer Khawaja Haris had objected to Justice Bashir hearing the two other corruption cases against the PML-N supremo. Harris said how Judge Bashir can hear the two cases when he had already given a verdict in the Avenfield case. He further said that evidence and charges in all cases are almost similar.
In his letter, Judge Bashir further stated that if required, then he could also be transferred. He said that Sharif's counsel had also objected to him hearing the other two cases, sources said. The Islamabad Accountability Court had on July 6 found Sharif, his daughter and his son-in-law guilty over the family's ownership of four luxury flats in London.
The court sentenced Sharif to 10 years in prison and imposed a fine of 8 million pounds (USD 10 million) in the Avenfield corruption case. Maryam was sentenced to seven years in prison along with a 2 million pounds (USD 2.6 million) fine.
Sharif and Maryam were arrested in Lahore on July 13 on their arrival from London. They were later taken to Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi. His son-in-law, Safdar, who was arrested on July 8, is also lodged in the same jail.
Sharif resigned as prime minister last year after the Supreme Court disqualified him from holding public office and ruled that graft cases be filed against the beleaguered leader and his children over the Panama Papers scandal.