ISLAMABAD -UNS : Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Friday in the Avenfield properties reference while his daughter Maryam was sentenced to seven years.
Accountability Court-I Judge Mohammad Bashir announced the sentence today after several delays since morning.
Nawaz’s son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar was given a one year sentence.
Moreover, Nawaz was fined £8 million and Maryam £2 million.
After setting three deadlines — 3pm, 2:30pm and 12:30pm — the court said it would announce the verdict at 3:30pm.
However, the judge called lawyers of both sides inside his chambers and disallowed the media.
He then stated that the media will be called in when the judgment is being read out.
Earlier, the judge, present inside his chamber, had issued the delay notices through the court staff but the 3:30 pm deadline was informed of by the judge himself.
The judge explained that they have to make an appropriate number of photocopies of the judgment for distribution to the relevant parties — hence the delay.
All eyes are set on the accountability court hearing the high-profile corruption cases against the former prime minister and his family. Strict security arrangements, including paramilitary personnel, are in place at the Federal Judicial Complex, where the court is located. The roads leading to the complex have also been closed to traffic.
Moreover, the district administration has imposed Section 144 in the capital to discourage mass gatherings.
Plea to delay verdict dismissed
Maryam Nawaz outside the Avenfield apartments today. She will hear the verdict with her father and former finance minister Ishaq Dar – Geo News
As the hearing went under way, Judge Bashir heard Sharifs’ request, submitted on Thursday, requesting the trial court to postpone the verdict till he is back in the country next week.
After submitting Begum Kulsoom Nawaz’s medical report, Maryam’s counsel Amjad Pervez argued that the law stipulates the presence of the accused when the verdict is read out. After the prosecution opposed any delay at such a late stage of the trial, the judge reserved his verdict and adjourned the hearing for an hour.
Later, the court dismissed Sharifs’ plea and set 12:30pm as the time for announcing the verdict. However, that deadline was later pushed twice.
Prior to the verdict, Maryam took to Twitter, urging the “PML-N’s lions” not to get unsettled no matter what the verdict.
“All of this is not new for your Nawaz Sharif, he has faced exile, disqualification, and life imprisonment [sentence] in the past,” she said further in the series of tweets.
Reports from London stated that the former premier will hear the verdict at the Avenfield apartments along with Maryam and former finance minister Ishaq Dar, and then proceed to visit his ailing wife at Harley Street Clinic.
Nawaz and Maryam have been in London since June 14 tending to Nawaz’s wife Kulsoom, who is under medical treatment there, while Nawaz’s son-in-law, Capt (r) Safdar, is in Mansehra campagning for the July 25 election.
Speaking to voters today, Safdar said he does not fear any verdict against him, adding that he will be exonerated in the court of public opinion.
On Tuesday, the court had reserved its verdict and ordered all accused to ensure their presence in court when the verdict is read out today.
The reference pertains to the ownership of the Sharif family’s apartments at Avenfield House, London.
Apart from Nawaz, Maryam and Capt (retd) Safdar, Nawaz’s sons are also accused in the case. They were declared proclaimed offenders last year owing to their no-show and will face a separate trial whenever they join the proceedings.
The accused have been charged as per the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999, according to which they face maximum jail terms of 14 years and/or a fine, each.
If convicted, Maryam and Safdar will be barred from contesting the July general election from Lahore and Mansehra, respectively.