- Maryam says she and Nawaz Sharif will return to country in time to file appeals against conviction
- Says anti-graft court delivered verdict on ‘assumptions’, cleared former premier of corruption charges
- NAB spokesman insists offence of (having) assets beyond known sources of income is considered corruption under NAO 1999
- Accountability watchdog obtains arrest warrants for Nawaz, Maryam and Capt Safdar, making efforts to nab convict Safdar from Mansehra
ISLAMABAD: Maryam Nawaz, the daughter of deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif, on Saturday announced that she and her father will return to Pakistan on Friday, July 13, rejecting speculations that the father-daughter duo, who were convicted by an accountability court on Friday in the Avenfield flats reference, will not return to the country anytime soon.
Speaking to reporters in London, the former first daughter chided the accountability court for delivering a verdict based on ‘assumptions’ besides criticising the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for targeting the Sharifs.
The Sharifs, who have been in London for more than three weeks now to tend to ailing Kulsoom Nawaz, were convicted by the anti-graft court for accumulating assets beyond known sources of income, but acquitted of corrupt practices; however, the accountability watchdog, in a clarification issued on Saturday, claimed that the ordinance used to convict Sharifs also pertains to corrupt practices.
Over failure to satisfy the court regarding the Avenfield apartments, Nawaz Sharif was handed a 10-year sentence with 8 million pounds in fine, while Maryam Nawaz was sent to jail for seven years besides 2m pounds in fines. Nawaz’s son-in-law Captain (r) Safdar Awan, who was in Pakistan, though not at court at the time of the verdict, was sentenced to one-year in jail.
In a reference to the verdict, Maryam claimed that the court had acquitted her father of corruption. The verdict had stated: “The prosecution have not brought evidence in respect of Section 9(a)(iv) of NAO 1999, which is related to corrupt practices; therefore the court exonerates them of corrupt practices.”
She further said that consultation was underway against the decision and their lawyers were looking at the matter from different angles. When asked whether she had been informed by her lawyers that they need to surrender themselves within 10 days to get any sort of relief, she said: “We will go back before that [10 days] anyway.”
NAWAZ CONVICTED FOR CORRUPTION:
Commenting on the speculations that Sharifs were not convicted over corrupt practices, a NAB spokesperson clarified that Nawaz Sharif and his family members had been convicted for committing corruption as “the offence of assets beyond known sources of income which prima facie come under the purview of National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999 are corruption and corrupt practice”.
In its judgement on Friday, the court had acquitted the ex-premier, his daughter and son-in-law of the charge of corrupt practices. According to the judgement, the prosecution have not brought evidence in respect of Section 9(a)(iv) of NAO 1999, which is related to corrupt practices.
Under Section 9(a)(v) of the NAO about owning assets disproportionate to known source of income, the court declared that the prosecution shifted the burden of proof on the accused persons. The defence side was required to provide evidence that the Avenfield apartments were not disproportionate to the known sources of their income. The verdict says: “In the above mentioned circumstances, the prosecution has succeeded to bring home the guilt of the accused.”
APPEAL TO BE FILED ON MONDAY:
According to informed sources, the Sharif family will challenge the court decision on July 9 in the Islamabad High Court. Khawaja Haris, the defence counsel, will file the appeals on their behalf.
Following the verdict, the federal government was directed to confiscate the London properties of the Sharifs. When a reporter asked her to comment on the order, Maryam responded that the court cannot confiscate their London properties as no law had been violated in the United Kingdom.
“In fact, let the court move British government against us, the investigations by them would make things clear.”
“Due process will be implied against the court’s decision,” said Maryam, claiming that the institutions in the UK have already told the Pakistani authorities that no illegality was carried out.”
NAB OBTAINS ARREST WARRANTS:
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has, meanwhile, obtained arrest warrants of Nawaz Sharif, Maryam and Safdar, while a NAB team has already left for Mansehra—hometown of Safdar— to arrest him.
According to a NAB spokesperson, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa caretaker government has also been approached for their assistance in carrying out Safdar’s arrest. The Abbottabad DIG, however, said the police had not received any instructions to arrest the PML-N leader, but added that he would be arrested the moment they receive the order from NAB.
Moreover, Safdar was placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) as well.