ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif appeared today before an accountability court to face trial in corruption cases filed against him by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar also turned up before the court in a reference related to the Sharif family’s London properties.
After a brief hearing, Judge Muhammad Bashir adjourned the cases till Nov 7 when he would hear arguments of defense and prosecution sides on a plea of Nawaz Sharif to club together three references filed against him by NAB.
The court granted Sharif, and other his family members exemption from appearing before it on next hearing.
An Islamabad High Court bench a day earlier had granted Sharif’s request for clubbing together three corruption references filed against him by NAB, and revoked the trial court’s Oct 19 verdict regarding the dismissal of his request to club all references, directing it to reconsider the case.
In his plea, Sharif’s lawyer argued that the Supreme Court’s July 28 verdict in the Panama Papers case had not asked the NAB to file the references separately. Thus, he added, separate references can not be filed against him, requesting the court to club together all three references.
Special security arrangements have been put in place to avoid any untoward happening. A number of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders and workers reached the court to show support for their leader.
A day earlier the former prime minister arrived in Islamabad after a month-long stay in London. A team of NAB was not allowed to serve bailable warrants for his arrest after his arrival at Benazir Bhutto International Airport.
The NAB team later reached Punjab House to serve summons, where PML-N leader Tariq Fazal Chaudhry furnished a surety bond of Rs1 million to obtain bail for Sharif. He assured the NAB team that the former prime minister will appear before the accountability court today.
On Oct 26, the court had issued bailable warrant for the PML-N president’s arrest after he failed to appear before it.
Indictment in three references
On Oct 19, the NAB court indicted deposed PM Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain (retd) Muhammad Safdar in a reference regarding Avenfield apartments in London.
The charge sheet was read out in the courtroom in presence of Maryam Nawaz, her spouse Capt (r) Safdar, and Zafir Khan, who appeared on behalf of his client Nawaz Sharif.
Nawaz, through his representative, Maryam and Safdar rejected the charges by pleading ‘not guilty’.
According to the charge sheet, Maryam Nawaz was the sole beneficiary of Avenfield apartments in London and she submitted the forged documents with regard to trust deed of the London properties to the Panamagate JIT, using ‘Calibri font’.
It is apropos to mention here that the reference relates to the Avenfield properties (flats 16, 16-A, 17 and 17-A Avenfield House, Park Lane, London, United Kingdom).
A day after on Oct 20, the former premier was indicted in the third reference with regard to the Flagship Investment Ltd.
Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain (retd) Safdar are nominated in a single corruption reference in connection with London properties.
On the other hand, ex-PM Sharif and his two sons – Hasan and Hussain Nawaz – have been nominated in two references regarding the Aziza Steel Mills, Hill Metals Establishment, and nearly dozen other companies owned by the Sharif family.
Ex-PM Sharif could face lifetime disqualification from holding a public office including the freezing of bank accounts, besides 14 years imprisonment over conviction in the references.