London affidavit of former judge ‘testimony of Nawaz’s innocence’: Maryam

ISLAMABAD: The alleged affidavit of former Gilgit-Baltistan chief judge Rana Muhammad Shamim was “the third major testimony from within the judiciary” proving the innocence of deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif and her, declared Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz.

A Monday report published in The News, citing the affidavit filed in London, said former chief justice Saqib Nisar did not want Sharif and his daughter to be released on bail ahead of the general elections in July 2018.

The two were convicted in a National Accountability Bureau (NAB) reference related to their ownership of four multi-million-dollar London apartments weeks before the elections on July 25. When their counsels moved the IHC for suspension of the conviction, the case was adjourned until the last week of July.

Shamim, who submitted the document, claimed that Nisar directed Justice Aamer Farooq, part of the IHC bench hearing the reference against Sharifs, to ensure the father-daughter duo remains behind bars until the elections.

The explosive development came days before Nawaz was scheduled to appear before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) in connection with the Avenfield House apartments case.

Speaking outside the court which conducted a hearing on her appeal seeking annulment of her conviction in the reference, Nawaz said former IHC judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui and the late accountability judge Arshad Malik were the other two “witnesses” who “spoke the truth”.

But “instead of his statement being taken seriously, he [Siddiqui] was expelled from service and his case was referred to the Supreme Judicial Council”, she said.

He is still waiting for justice, Nawaz said and claimed the case of Arshad Malik was “deliberately ignored”.

In July 2018, an accountability court ruled that Sharif and his family laundered money in the 1990s to pay for four luxury apartments in Park Lane, central London, drawing on allegations that resurfaced in the 2016 Panama Papers.

Accountability Court judge Mohammad Bashir sentenced Nawaz to seven years’ imprisonment, fined the family £10m and ordered the seizure of the Avenfield properties. She also received an additional one-year sentence for presenting forged documents in court.

The family has long struggled to explain how the Avenfield flats came into their possession. Family members initially told different stories. During the National Accountability Bureau trial, Sharif’s defence claimed that a Qatari investment fund gave the expensive properties to the family to repay a debt owed to Sharif’s father, Mian Muhammad Sharif.

Commentators in 2017 mocked a letter from a Qatari prince apparently testifying to that deal as a rabbit pulled out of a hat.

Sharif and members of his family have denied any wrongdoing, and supporters claim the charges against them are politically motivated.

The three had filed appeals in the IHC against their convictions. The court in September the same year suspended their sentences and released them on bail.

More details to follow

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