Nawaz, Maryam to spend election day in jail

Court declares Sharif families’ appeal against conviction maintainable but fixes last week of July for hearing

Ousted Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif with his daughter Maryam.

Islamabad: Hopes of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif with regard to leading election campaign of his party (PML-N) ahead of general elections on July 25 were dashed here on Tuesday when a division bench of the Islamabad High Court adjourned hearing of his appeal against conviction and imprisonment until last week of July.

Nawaz Sharif was awarded 10-year jail term along with hefty fine of £8 million by the Accountability Court No. 1 on July 6 in Avenfield Reference. Two other corruption references are also pending against him. Nawaz’s daughter Maryam Nawaz and her husband Captain Safdar were also sentenced to seven- and one-year jail terms respectively while Maryam was fined £8 million by the same court.

Counsels for Sharif and Maryam and her husband Capt Safdar on Tuesday challenged the verdict in the IHC in separate appeals urging the court to transfer the other two references pending against Sharif from the Accountability Court No. 1; set aside the July 6 verdict and suspend its implementation till final adjudication by the high court on this matter. The Islamabad High Court after hearing them, issued separate notices to National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor and Investigation Officer to appear before the court along with the record on the next date of hearing.

The court, however, dismissed Nawaz Sharif’s plea to stay the corruption trial of the remaining two references till the matter is decided by the IHC.

During the course of hearing, one of the judges remarked whether the counsel for Nawaz Sharif thought the accountability court judge was biased against his client. To this Khawaja Haris, Nawaz Sharif’s counsel said he didn’t harbour any grudge against the judge. However, he argued that some basic principles of law were ignored. In the July 6 verdict, the value of Avenfield apartments was neither mentioned nor was any information given about Nawaz’s known source of income. Without these two values, how could the court assess that the apartments were “beyond known sources of my client’s income?” said Haris.

Head of Panama Papers joint investigation team (JIT) Wajid Zia on a number of occasions had frankly admitted in the open court that Nawaz Sharif’s children were not dependent on him. However the judge didn’t make his statement part of his judgement. NAB has also failed to produce any document, record, statement or transaction that could verify that Nawaz Sharif in any way had anything to do with the Avenfield properties, he said. “My client has made it clear on several occasions that it was his father who in 1970 had invested money first in Saudi Arabia, then Qatar, and the flats were bought with that money, said Haris.

Maryam’s counsel Amjad Pervaiz argued that she was convicted on the basis of “her role in aiding and abetting Nawaz Sharif.” Besides NAB could not produce any evidence against her to be the beneficial owner of the properties except a number of video clips and Calibri font in which the trust deal was written. He argued that according to the law of the land, video clips, CCTV footage or such recorded material could not be taken into account by a court of law except in unusual circumstances. About Capt Safdar, he said in the entire judgement there is only one line about Capt Safdar and that too is only about his conviction. After the arguments of the counsel, the court while issuing notices to NAB adjourned hearing until last week of July.

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