ISLAMABAD (Muslim Times) – An accountability court on Friday jailed former prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif, daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain (r) Muhammad Safdar for 10, 7 and 1 year respectively.
Announcing verdict judge, Muhammad Bashir ruled that the Avenfield apartments of the Sharif family shall be seized by the federal government.
The judge while awarding 10 years imprisonment to Nawaz Sharif also imposed an eight million pound (Rs1.2billion) fine, while a fine of two million pound (Rs322 million) has been imposed on his daughter Maryam Nawaz .
The court also issued permanent arrest warrants of ex-PM’s sons Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz.
Maryam Nawaz and Captain (r) Safdar, who were candidates for the forthcoming general elections have been disqualified from contesting elections for 10 years each.
The verdict marked a further fall for Mr. Sharif, who has been Pakistan’s prime minister three times but never completed a term.
Nawaz Sharif has been convicted under section 9(a)(5) of the NAB ordinance.
Earlier, the court had dismissed the petition of Sharif family requesting to defer the verdict in the case for seven days citing Kulsoom Nawaz’s critical health.
The judge initially maintained that the verdict will be announced at 12:30pm but later pushed the time to 2:30pm. At 2:30pm, the reader said the announcement had been pushed further to 3:00pm. However; when the said time approached the verdict was deferred for the fourth time for another half an hour.
Clarifying the repeated extension in time, Judge Muhammad Bashir said that the delay is just due to technical glitches including the span required to complete set of photocopies.
We are preparing the copies of order for both the prosecution and defence, he added.
At 3:30pm, the judge and lawyers returned to the courtroom. The media personnel were told to leave as they will be called once the order is announced.
A discussion was held between the judge and the lawyers in the courtroom. However; the verdict faced delay for the fifth time as the judge remarked that the decision will likely be announced in 30-40 minutes.
Keeping in view the orders of the court, foolproof security arrangements have been made in and outside the court by the Islamabad administration. Section-144 has been imposed around the Judicial Complex.
There will be a complete ban on the assembly of more than 5 people outside the Judicial Complex, while 500 Rangers personnel and 1500 police personnel have been deputed in and outside the complex.
On the other hand, the security of accountability court judge Muhammad Bashir has also been beefed up.
The Sharif family, along with former finance minister Ishaq Dar, gathered at the Avenfield flats in London to watch the verdict unfold live.
The Avenfield reference is one of three corruption references filed against the deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his three children, son-in-law and former finance minister Ishaq Dar in compliance with the Supreme Court verdict in the Panama Papers case last year.
The case is pertaining to the Park Lane apartments (flats 16, 16-A, 17, and 17-A Avenfield House, Park Lane, London, United Kingdom) of the Sharif family and comprises Nawaz Sharif, his three children, and son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar as the accused.
Ex-PM’s sons Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz have been declared absconders in the case.
Prosecution maintains that Sharif family obtained the flats through illegal sources however the charges have been denied by the accused. The family insists that the four flats are the ownership of Nawaz’s sons.
The hearing of the case went for nine months and 22 days during which statements of at least 22 witnesses were recorded.
Sharif, his sons, daughter, son-in-law Capt (retd) Mohammad Safdar and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar are facing multiple corruption references in the accountability court.
The Pakistan Supreme Court had, on July 28, disqualified Sharif from holding the office of the prime minister and asked the National Accountability Bureau to file references against the Sharif family in connection with corruption cases against them.
On the orders of the apex Court, a JIT was formed last year to probe the allegations on the Sharif family.