Nawaz Sharif appears for trial in Panama Papers case, says courts have 'double standards'

Islamabad: A defiant Nawaz Sharif appeared before an anti-graft court on Thursday to face trial in the corruption cases linked to the Panama Papers scandal even as the ousted prime minister claimed that the courts in Pakistan had "double standards".

Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired captain Muhammad Safdar were present at the Accountability Court which resumed trial into the three corruption cases filed against them by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

 Nawaz Sharif appears for trial in Panama Papers case, says courts have double standards

File image of Nawaz Sharif. AP

The court had last week accepted 67-year-old Sharif's application for exemption from court hearings till 27 November. However, Sharif appeared before the court today due to a change in his plans.

The court had granted them an extension on the grounds that both Maryam and Sharif wanted to see Kulsoom Nawaz, wife of Sharif, who is undergoing treatment in the United Kingdom.

The Sharif family members left the court after two prosecution witnesses recorded their statements.

Speaking to media before the start of the hearing, the three-time former prime minister said that the PML-N had delivered despite frequent sit-ins against it.

"They (PTI leaders) are turning out to be liars," Sharif said, adding that corruption scandals against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan, Jahangir Tareen, Aleem Khan have also been public now.

"Judgements in our cases come very early. Don't know how much time will be taken for decisions in their cases," he said.

He also claimed that the courts had "double standards" while dealing with their and others' cases.

"Rules of the game should be equal. Yardstick is different in our cases," Sharif was quoted as saying by the Express Tribune.

Referring to remarks of the Supreme Court judges, he said that it was not appropriate for them to use words like "Sicilian Mafia and Godfather".

The accountability court on 8 November rejected a plea by Sharif to club all three cases together.

Sharif's lawyer Khawaja Harris had argued that all three cases dealt with assets beyond means and allegations and most of the witnesses were same, therefore the references should be taken as one.

Last week, Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar also dismissed Sharif's in-chamber appeal to merge three cases filed by the NAB in the Panama Papers scandal.

Sharif was indicted in all three cases while his daughter Maryam and her husband Safdar, co-accused with Sharif in only one case, were also indicted last month.

Sharif's sons Hassan and Hussian are also co-accused in all three cases but have so far failed to appear in the court despite repeated summons, prompting the court to separate their case and initiate a process to declare them proclaimed offenders.

A five-member bench of the Supreme Court on 28 July had disqualified Sharif over his undeclared income. The apex court also directed the NAB to file cases against him, and his children in the accountability court and directed the trial court to decide the cases within six months.

The NAB had filed three cases on 8 September against Sharif and his family, and another case against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

The three cases against the Sharifs are related to the Flagship Investment Ltd, the Avenfield (London) properties and Jeddah-based Al-Azizia Company and Hill Metal Establishment.

The political future of Sharif, who leads the country's most powerful political family and the PML-N party, has been hanging in balance since his disqualification. If convicted, Sharif could be jailed.

Sharif's family alleges that the cases are politically motivated.

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Updated Date: Nov 22, 2017 20:02:42 IST