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IHC issues detailed verdict on suspending Sharif’s jail term

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday issued a detailed judgment regarding its September 19 order suspending the imprisonment of former premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain (retd) Muhammad Safdar in the Avenfield corruption reference.

The 41-page detailed verdict of the IHC has been written by Justice Athar Minallah.

The judgement read, “In hindsight, the sentences awarded to the suspects cannot hold for a long time. The accountability court which awarded the sentences did not state how or refer to evidence regarding how Maryam assisted Nawaz in the purchase of the Avenfield apartments.”

The judgement added, “The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) mostly relied on Panama Papers case to argue their points against suspension in sentences.”

Justice Athar Minallah argued, “Suspects were also indicted under NAB ordinance Section 9(a)(iv) but a trial court acquitted them under the same. However, the prosecution did not challenge the acquittal.”

“Court findings are not final and our opinions or observations will not influence the appeals,” the judgment further remarked.

As an interim relief, the Islamabad High Court on September 19 suspended the conviction of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain (retd) Safdar in the Avenfield properties case.

A division bench comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb suspended their sentence through a short verdict.

The bench ordered release of the incarcerated members of the Sharif family against a surety bond of Rs 500,000 each.

This verdict came on a petition filed by Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and her spouse seeking suspension of the Avenfield verdict until a final decision on their appeals against the sentence.

The Case Background

Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and her spouse Safdar, were convicted by an accountability court in the Avenfield reference case on July 6. Nawaz Sharif was sentenced ten years in prison, while Maryam was awarded jail term for seven years.

Sharif and his his daughter and political heir Maryam were arrested at Lahore airport after their return from Britain on July 13 to undergo the jail sentences awarded by an anti-corruption court over the purchase of luxury flats in London in the 1990s.

They were jailed in a case stemming from 2016 Panama Papers revelations that showed they owned the apartments through off-shore companies. Maryam was convicted for concealing ownership of the apartments.

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