The Islamabad High Court on Tuesday adjourned until the last week of July the hearing of appeals filed by Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Muhammad Safdar against their conviction in the Avenfield Reference case and shattered their hope to come out of jail before polls to boost the campaign of their party.
This setback comes just days after Sharif, the former Pakistan prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader, and his daughter Maryam were arrested on their arrival from London.
Sharif, 68, and Maryam, 44, were arrested in Lahore on 13 July after a court of the National Accountability Bureau of Pakistan found them guilty of owning assets disproportionate to their known sources of income. The verdict was in the Avenfield Reference case, wherein Sharif and his family owned four luxury flats in London.
After their arrest, they were taken to Adiala jail in Rawalpindi. Sharif's son-in-law, Captain (retired) Muhammad Safdar, who was arrested on 8 July, is also lodged in the same Adiala Jail.
The lawyers of the three convicts filed seven separate appeals in the Islamabad High Court — three on behalf of Sharif and two each on behalf of Maryam and Safdar.
A two-judge bench of Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb heard the appeals. They are the most junior of five judges in the Islamabad High Court. They also issued notices to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and also ordered to present the record of the case.
The bench adjourned the hearing till last week of July which effectively means that hearing will be held after 25 July which will be observed as a holiday to let people cast votes.
The appeal highlighted the legal flaws in the Avenfield verdict and pleaded to nullify the Islamabad Accountability Court's verdict. The copy of Sharif's appeal, seen by the PTI, shows that he argued that the prosecution had not given any evidence or presented any witness during the trial to prove that Avenfield properties were owned by him.
An appeal was also filed against conducting the proceedings of the remaining two corruption cases within the Adiala jail premises. A separate appeal was filed to request the transfer of the case to another accountability court as the defence counsel argued that Judge Mohammad Bashir of the accountability court had already made public his opinion on multiple aspects of the case. Bashir has now recused himself from hearing two other corruption cases against the former prime minister.
The Islamabad Accountability Court had sentenced Sharif to a total of 10 years in prison and imposed a fine of £8 million ($10 million) in the corruption case. His daughter Maryam was sentenced to seven years in prison along with a £2 million ($2.6 million) fine. In addition, Sharif's son-in-law Captain (retired) Safdar was given a one-year sentence without any fine.
They were also disqualified to contest election or to hold public office for a period of 10 years. Maryam's legal counsel Amjad Pervaiz stated that the accountability court's verdict in the Avenfield case was not in compliance with the law. "The accountability court's verdict is in contradiction with the law and declaring it void would serve justice," Pervaiz said. "Our case is very strong and on merit. We are right and we hope to get some relief," he said. Maryam's appeal was drafted on Saturday, however, her legal counsels who were in Adiala Jail to get the power of attorney signed by their client were unable to file the petition before the court hours ended.
On 6 July, after four extensions in the original six-month deadline to conclude all three cases, the court announced its verdict in the Avenfield case. Nawaz and his sons, Hussain and Hasan, are accused in all three corruption cases whereas Maryam and Safdar are accused in the Avenfield case only.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Jul 17, 2018 17:32 PM