Nawaz Sharif sentenced to 10 years, Maryam to 7 years
An accountability court hearing corruption references against deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his children on Friday sentenced the former premier to 10 years imprisonment and his daughter Maryam Nawaz to seven years in the Avenfield reference. Maryam’s husband Captain (r) Muhammad Safdar has been handed one-year imprisonment.
Besides imprisonment, the NAB [National Accountability Bureau] court has also imposed a fine of 8 million British pounds on Nawaz and 2 million pounds on Maryam Nawaz. However, no fine has been imposed on Safdar.
The court has also ordered for the confiscation of Avenfield flats that would be done by the federal government.
The verdict has also rendered Mariam Nawaz and Capt Safar disqualified from contesting the elections from Lahore and Manshera, respectively.
The ousted premier and his daughter had filed an application with a duty judge on Thursday seeking a seven-day delay in the verdict announcement in light of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz’s health.
The Sharif matriarch has been in London since last year, when she was diagnosed with cancer. She was recently placed on a ventilator and her condition remains more or less unchanged.
Receiving Nawaz and Maryam’s application on Thursday, duty judge Mohammad Arshad had issued notices to the prosecution wing of NAB, and left it up to Judge Bashir to decide on the application.
After Judge Bashir reached the accountability court on Friday morning, NAB Additional Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi opposed Nawaz and Maryam’s application, saying: “At a stage when the court concludes the trial and fixes a date for the final announcement, the accused cannot file application for any relief.”
He pointed out that “when the court concludes the arguments, the accused is put on notice and under the law he should be brought to court, or the court orders the accused to ensure attendance.”
In a rebuttal, the defence counsel, Advocate Amjad Pervez, argued that “There is a legal requirement that the accused person should be summoned at the time of announcement of judgement, and in this case Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz both are ready to attend proceedings, but because of Kulsoom Nawaz’s illness, they requested that the judgement may be postponed for a few days.”
When the lawyer asked when decision on the application would be announced, Judge Bashir replied, “Give me an hour at least.”
Subsequently, the court reserved its decision on the application for an hour, until 11am.
At 11am, the court announced that it had rejected the application for a delay, and said the verdict would be announced at 12:30pm.
Nawaz and Maryam have been in London since June 14 tending to Nawaz’s wife Kulsoom, who is under medical treatment there.
Earlier, the court had reserved its judgment in the case after almost 10 months of proceedings and roughly 80 plus appearances of the former prime minister, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (r) Safdar Abbasi.
Judge Bashir had reserved the judgment after defence counsel Amjad Pervaiz concluded his arguments, saying he would announce the judgment on July 6 and, subsequently, issued notices to the accused requiring their attendance before the court on Friday.
In his final arguments, Amjad Pervaiz had said that “the entire investigation of the joint investigation team was conducted with a preconceived mind to implicate the whole Sharif family in the cases”. During his arguments, he reiterated that malice of the JIT was floating on the surface in the reference.
In his arguments, the counsel had said that there is no seal and certification of the Financial Investigation Agency (FIA) of British Virgin Island (BVI) on the Mossack Fonseca’s letters of 2012 through which the prosecution had called Maryam Nawaz as the beneficial owner of the London properties.
The NAB has filed four references against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family in the light of the Supreme Court’s directives in Panama Papers case.
The Avenfield reference, filed against deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif, daughter Maryam Nawaz, son-in-law Capt (r) Safdar and both sons Hassan and Hussain, pertains to the ownership of the Sharif family’s apartments at Avenfield House, London. Nawaz’s sons, also wanted in the case, have been declared proclaimed offenders owing to their no-show.
Maryam and Safdar are only nominated in the London properties reference.
If convicted, the accused may face up to 14 years imprisonment and lifelong disqualification from holding public office including the freezing of bank accounts and assets.