IHC to hear Sharifs’ pleas against Avenfield verdict today

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IHC to hear Sharifs' pleas against Avenfield verdict today

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) will take up on Wednesday petitions of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz for suspension of the accountability court’s verdict against them in the Avenfield properties reference.

 

Nawaz’s counsel Khawaja Harris is expected to conclude his arguments during the hearing.

 

The counsel for Captain (retd) Safdar, Amjad Pervez, has also been directed to conclude his arguments today.

 

On August 8, a two-member bench of the IHC, comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, ordered Capt (retd) Safdar’s lawyer to make accountability court party to his petition.

 

Pervez had argued that a plea to suspend punishment can be accepted if the prison sentence is less than five years. Justice Farooq noted this was the reason that Capt (retd) Safdar’s petition had been separated from his wife Maryam and father-in-law Nawaz Sharif’s pleas.

Safdar’s lawyer had contended that while the court had ordered the sentences of all three convicted in the case to begin simultaneously, this was not the case for his client who had remained in the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) custody for a day.

 

Pervez further said that the accountability court’s ruling in the Avenfield case was based on a forged signature on a trust deed. “The expert witness had admitted that the Calibri font was available in 2005,” he said. To this, Justice Farooq remarked that it would be better if the case’s merits were not discussed.

 

The IHC bench ordered the petitioner to make the accountability court a party to the case as the plea was against the latter’s ruling.

 

The Sharif family had petitioned against their convictions in the Avenfield reference. Nawaz had also filed a plea to transfer the Al-Azizia and Flagship Investment corruption references from the court of Judge Mohammad Bashir to another accountability court.

 

Later, IHC had clubbed the two references. During yesterday’s proceedings, the court had accepted Nawaz’s plea. The hearing of Maryam and Nawaz’s petition against conviction in the Avenfield case was adjourned till August 13.

 

The trial

The trial against the Sharif family commenced on September 14, 2017.

 

On July 6, after four extensions in the original six-month deadline to conclude all three cases, the court announced its verdict in the Avenfield reference.

 

Nawaz was sentenced 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). Capt (retd) Safdar was also given a one-year sentence without any fine.

 

Nawaz and his sons, Hussain and Hassan, are accused in all three references whereas Maryam and Safdar were accused in the Avenfield reference only.

 

The two brothers, based abroad, have been absconding since the proceedings began last year and were declared proclaimed offenders by the court.

 

On July 10, the Supreme Court granted another six-week extension for Accountability Court-I Judge Mohammad Bashir to conclude the remaining corruption references against Nawaz and former finance minister Ishaq Dar.

 

The Sharifs had challenged their convictions in the IHC, highlighting the legal flaws in the Avenfield case judgment and asking for the accountability court’s verdict to be declared null and void, and the three convicts be released on bail.

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