–Accountability court issues perpetual arrest warrants for Hassan and Hussain Nawaz
–Rejects Sharif’s counsel’s plea for permanent exemption from personal appearance
–Maryam says Pakistani laws don’t apply to her brothers as they are British citizens
ISLAMABAD: The accountability court hearing corruption references filed against the Sharif family on Monday granted bail to ousted premier Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz and her husband Captain (r) Muhammad Safdar, while declaring Sharif’s sons Hassan and Hussain proclaimed offenders for constantly ignoring the court’s summons.
The court also decided to hear Hassan and Hussain’s case separately while allowing a day’s exemption from the hearing to Nawaz Sharif.
Maryam and her husband Safdar appeared before the accountability court in connection with the corruption reference prepared against the Sharif family by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) pertaining to London properties owned by them.
Maryam, accompanied by senior leaders and ministers of her father’s party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), arrived at the court amid tight security.
Following the issuance of arrest warrants during the last hearing by the accountability court due to their failure to appear before the court, Maryam Nawaz and Captain (r) Safdar reached Pakistan early Monday morning. Safdar was taken into custody by NAB officials upon his arrival.
During the hearing, PML-N leader Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry submitted surety bonds worth Rs 5 million on behalf of Maryam Nawaz as directed by Judge Mohammad Bashir. The judge also provided a copy of the reference — spread over 53 volumes — to Maryam and Safdar.
After hearing arguments from the prosecution, the court accepted bail of both Maryam and her husband Safdar. The judge ordered NAB authorities to release Safdar after he too submitted surety bonds worth Rs5 million.
The couple separately left the court after acceptance of their bail.
SHARIF’S REQUEST FOR PERMANENT EXEMPTION REJECTED:
The court also heard arguments on an application filed by Nawaz Sharif seeking permanent exemption from appearance in the court.
When the court asked Sharif’s counsel, Khawaja Harris, whether he was requesting exemption from Monday’s hearing only, the lawyer responded that his client had gone to London to look after his ailing wife and he should, therefore, be granted permanent exemption. He also presented Kulsoom Nawaz’s medical reports in the court.
After initially reserving the decision, the court rejected the application for Sharif’s permanent exemption, allowing him to be absent from Monday’s hearing only.
Meanwhile, the NAB prosecution asked the court to issue arrest warrants for Nawaz Sharif, who they said had left for London, despite being a primary accused, without informing NAB authorities. Judge Bashir reserved his decision on this matter.
HASSAN AND HUSSAIN DECLARED POs:
The accountability court declared Hassan and Hussain Nawaz proclaimed offenders for repeatedly failing to appear before the court in connection with the NAB references.
The court also issued perpetual warrants for the brothers, and separated their trial from other members of the family.
The process to declare Hussain and Hassan Nawaz as proclaimed offenders will involve publication of notices in the newspapers directing the accused to appear in court. Failure to do so will result in seizure of property and issuance of further warrants.
The court also recorded the statements of three investigating officers of the NAB.
Sources said the court will indict Nawaz, Maryam and Safdar at the next hearing.
The hearing was adjourned until October 13, when members of the Sharif family will be indicted.
Meanwhile, in a TV interview, Hassan Nawaz said that the court cannot declare him a proclaimed offender.
Hassan claimed that he has not received any NAB summons at his residential address in London where he has been living for last 24 years. The former prime minister’s son said he is a British citizen and has never received the said summons according to British laws.
Hassan termed NAB’s actions an exercise that is nothing more than political victimisation and an effort to make ‘news headlines’. He said he has not committed any crime which could make him an absconder and has never fled from the country.
‘NOT AFRAID OF ARRESTS’:
Talking to reporters after her appearance before the court, Maryam said her family is being tried despite already receiving the punishment — the disqualification of her father Nawaz Sharif.
“These trials will last until the day of judgement unless something emerges in which he [Sharif] or anyone from his family is caught,” she said.
Asked when her brothers will appear before the court, Maryam said they would take their decisions themselves.
“My brothers live abroad… the laws of here [Pakistan] don’t apply to them.”
Maryam said the questions taken up by the Supreme Court-mandated Joint Investigation Team regarding her family businesses continue to remain questions “because they are false allegations with no answers”.
She said her father had been disqualified on the basis of a pre-decided verdict.
“Questions will be raised when the case starting on Panama ends in Iqama… and the judges will have to answer them.”
Maryam said her family members had presented themselves for accountability and the legal troubles against them would soon come to an end.
Maryam said she “knows very well what her ‘crime’ is”.
She said further that those who appear in court are being arrested form the airport while absconders are running free and holding rallies.
“But we are not ones to be afraid of being arrested,” she added.
SAFDAR TAKEN INTO CUSTODY:
Capt Safdar was taken into custody by a NAB team minutes after he landed at Benazir Bhutto International Airport along with his wife Maryam from London in the early hours of Monday morning.
The NAB authorities had to seek help of the Islamabad police when the charged workers of the ruling PML-N lay down in front of the NAB vehicle carrying Safdar.
The arrest followed issuance of non-bailable warrants by the accountability court for Capt Safdar after he failed to appear on previous hearings despite notices.
Amid slogans by the PML-N supporters, Maryam Nawaz left the airport for the residence of PML-N leader Chaudhry Muneer.
Meanwhile, answering the media’ queries on his way to the court, Safdar said his military training helped him sleep easily at night.
In response to another question, he said, “I have not hijacked a plane [that I should be scared of legal proceedings]”.
A five-member SC bench on July 28 had directed NAB to file references against Nawaz and his children in six weeks in the accountability court and directed the trial court to decide the references within six months. The SC also assigned Justice Ijazul Ahsan a supervisory role to monitor the progress of the accountability court proceedings.
The former premier and his sons have been named in all three NAB references, while Maryam and husband Safdar have been named only in the Avenfield reference.
The trial court judge has already decided that in case the children of Nawaz Sharif do not join the proceedings, the court would indict Sharif alone and start his trial separately.
On Oct 2, the accountability court issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Sharif’s sons — Hussain and Hassan Nawaz — and son-in-law Capt Safdar for failing to appear in court. The judge, however, did not issue non-bailable warrants for Maryam but repeated the bailable arrest warrants after the counsel for Sharif assured the court that she and her spouse would join the proceedings on the next date of hearing on October 9.