–Judge says NAB’s plea not maintainable since PML-N leader’s appeal against Avenfield verdict is already pending in IHC
–Maryam asks NAB prosecutor why it took anti-graft watchdog a year to raise trust deed issue
ISLAMABAD: An accountability court on Friday rejected an application filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) seeking legal proceedings against ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s daughter and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz for using a bogus trust deed in the Avenfield properties case.
The court had issued summons for Maryam on July 9, after NAB moved an application before Accountability Judge Mohammad Bashir.
However, Judge Bashir returned the petition, saying it was not maintainable on the basis of the fact that Maryam already has an appeal pending against the Avenfield properties verdict filed in the Islamabad High Court (IHC).
During the hearing, Maryam spoke on the rostrum with the judge’s permission.
She asked the prosecution why it took them a year to bring out the trust deed issue. The NAB prosecutor responded: “Better late than never”.
The two continued to exchange words until the judge barred Maryam from doing so, asking her that she should let her lawyer carry out the proceedings.
During arguments, NAB’s Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Khan Abbasi told the court that when the verdict in the case was presented, the bench had said that the matter of the use of fake documents would be looked at separately.
To this, Maryam’s lawyer retorted, saying NAB only had 30 days to appeal the matter, but the bureau had taken more than a year to do so.
“It may be late, but it is [the] right [thing to do],” Abbasi responded. To this, Maryam’s lawyer said that one cannot always be right.
After hearing the arguments, the accountability judge dismissed NAB’s application and said that the matter could not be taken further until the high court rules on Maryam’s pending petition.
Earlier in the day, Maryam left her Jati Umrah residence to go to Islamabad in order to appear before the court. She was accompanied by her husband Captain (r) Mohammad Safdar, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Pervez Rashid and Sadia Abbasi.
As usual, a large number of PML-N supporters gathered in Islamabad to welcome their leader. At least 17 PML-N workers were arrested by the police for protesting outside the accountability court.
Upon reaching the court, Maryam told reporters that she and her father Nawaz Sharif had been “contacted on several occasions to hold negotiations”.
“Mian Sahab and I cannot fulfill the accessories,” she declared.
Responding to a reporter’s question regarding the workers’ arrest, Maryam said: “Those who had paralysed the capital for 126 days should be ashamed of such acts. Their fear of Maryam Nawaz preceded my presence in the capital. If you were this afraid you should not have gotten selected.”
She questioned why no action has been taken against accountability judge Arshad Malik after she exposed him during her press conference with video proof on July 6.
The PML-N vice president added: “We need to sacrifice our own principles because of a selected prime minister.”
This development has come over a year after Maryam’s conviction in the Avenfield properties reference.
On July 6, 2018, Judge Bashir had convicted former premier Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam in the Avenfield properties reference and sentenced them to 10 and 7 years imprisonment, respectively.
In the verdict, judge Bashir had declared that “the trust deeds produced by the accused Maryam Nawaz were also found bogus… In view of the role of this accused Maryam Nawaz, she is convicted and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for seven years with fine of two million pounds.”
Subsequently, she was arrested and shifted to Adiala jail. Later, in September 2018, she was released from jail after the Islamabad High Court suspended her prison sentence.
Maryam Nawaz recently released a controversial video allegedly featuring a separate accountability judge, Mohammad Arshad Malik, who had convicted her father in the Al-Azizia reference. The release of the video has stirred controversy in political and judicial circles, with Maryam Nawaz claiming that the judge in question was blackmailed into delivering an adverse verdict against her father.
Since then, Judge Arshad Malik — who was removed from is post as an accountability judge by the Islamabad High Court — has denied the PML-N’s allegations and has registered an FIR against the party’s leadership.