–IHC delays announcement of reserved judgement on appeal seeking suspension of Avenfield verdict
ISLAMABAD: Former premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (r) Safdar will spend Eidul Azha in jail after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) delayed the announcement of verdict Avenfield verdict suspension case.
The Sharifs had moved the high court after the accountability court handed down a 10-year jail sentence to ex-PM, seven years to Maryam Nawaz and one-year imprisonment to Safdar besides hefty fines.
The court said, “At this stage, we are not inclined to decide these petitions and they shall remain pending and fixed along with the appeals. In case there is a delay in deciding the appeals, the petitioners shall be at liberty to press these petitions.”
During the hearing of the case, the bench, comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, reserved the verdict, stating that “a reasonable judgement will be announced on appeals in Avenfield conviction”.
Presenting his arguments at the outset, NAB prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi said that the Avenfield reference, pertaining to Sharif family’s properties in London, was filed upon the orders of the Supreme Court. “The London flats were in the name of Neilson and Nescoll, which we proved were owned by Nawaz Sharif,” he said.
During the last hearing on Saturday, NAB counsel had literally “begged” IHC to dismiss the petitions filed by the Sharifs.
NAB begs with all humility that the instant writ petition is not maintainable, the counsel had said. It may be noted here that counsel was fined Rs 10,000 by the court as well.
On July 16, the legal counsels of the Sharifs had filed three separate appeals on behalf of their clients.
Nawaz’s counsel Khawaja Haris filed an appeal challenging the verdict against his client and requesting its suspension till IHC’s adjudication in the case. Similarly, Amjad Pervaiz filed the appeals on behalf of Maryam and Safdar.
An additional appeal was also filed requesting the court to transfer the Al-Azizia and Flagship Investment references against Nawaz from the court of Judge Mohammad Bashir to another accountability court.
The appeals, which Sharif family lawyers say highlight legal flaws in the Avenfield judgement, ask for the accountability court’s verdict to be declared null and void and the three convicts be released on bail.
The appeals state that the head of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) in Panama case and the prosecution’s star witness Wajid Zia himself accepted that a response to the mutual legal assistance (MLA) request was not received.
They further said that levelling allegations without receiving a response to the MLA was mala fide.
On July 6, an accountability court had sentenced Nawaz to a total of 11 years in prison and slapped a £8 million fine (Rs1.3 billion) in the corruption reference while his daughter Maryam was sentenced to eight years with a £2 million fine (Rs335 million). Additionally, Nawaz’s son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar was given a one-year sentence without any fine.