Avenfield reference verdict: Nawaz gets 10 years, Maryam 7

ISLAMABAD: An accountability court in Islamabad has sentenced former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to 10 years in jail, while his daughter Maryam Nawaz has been sentenced to seven years.

Captain (retd) Safdar has been also sentenced to one year in jail.

The court has also ordered to confiscate the Avenfield apartments, that were onwed by the Sharif family since 1993.

Moreover, the court imposed £8 million fine on Nawaz while Maryam was slapped with a fine of £8 million.

Nawaz would have to serve one additional year in jail for ‘not cooperating with NAB’.

The court announced its reserved verdict at 4:40 pm. Earlier, in the morning, the court dismissed Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz’s application filed on Thursday for a seven-day delay in the announcement of the verdict in the Avenfield corruption reference in light of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz’s health.
Ahead of verdict’s announcement, the district administration imposed Section 144 in the capital to discourage mass gatherings.

Following the verdict, Maryam and Safdar stand disqualified from contesting the July 25 general election from Lahore and Mansehra, respectively.

Three corruption references, with regards to the verdict, were filed against the Sharif family in the accountability court by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) after the disqualification of Nawaz in the Panama Papers case on July 28, 2017.

Under the supervision of Supreme Court Justice Ijazul Ahsan, who was appointed a monitoring judge in the Panama case verdict, the trial against the Sharif family commenced on September 14, 2017.

Trial’s course has been exhaustive: marked with 107 hearings, 18 prosecution witnesses’ statements, including the Panama case joint investigation team (JIT) head, and Wajid Zia from Federal Investigation Agency.

Supreme Court used Zia-led JIT report last year as a warp for Nawaz’s disqualification and further investigation of the Sharif family’s assets. After his statement was recorded, Zia was cross-examined for around two weeks by the defense counsels.

Private solicitor Akhtar Raja and forensic expert Robert Radley — whose expertise was utilised by the JIT during its probe had also recorded their statements before the prosecution.

127 questions were asked from Nawaz and other accused, during their cross-examination, while no witnesses appeared in their defense.

Safdar attended all the hearings while Nawaz and Maryam attended 78 hearings, as they often shifted between London; to spend time with Begum Kulsoom Nawaz and Pakistan.

The trial court was directed by the apex court to conclude the cases in six months. However, the court has only concluded proceedings of the Avenfield reference in spite of the fact that for two times deadline has been extended — the latest one being July 10.

The other two references involving Sharif family’s corruption: Al-Azizia Steel Mills, Hill Metal Establishment and offshore companies including Flagship Investment Limited — are yet to be concluded.

On July 3, the court reserved its verdict and ordered all accused to ensure their presence before the court while the verdict is being announced. The reference relates to apartments at Avenfield House, London that Sharif family owns.

Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam and son-in-law Captain (retd) Safdar have been appearing before the court, while Hassan and Hussain Nawaz have been declared ‘runagates’  by the court for failure to show in front of the court.

Politicians, journalists react to Avenfield verdict

Several polticians and journalists took to twitter to comment on the Avenfield verdict that has sentenced former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Nawaz Sharif to 10 and seven years, respectively, in jail.

PTI’s Jehangir Tareen

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Jehangir Khan Tareen termed the verdict as a ‘great victory for Pakistan’.

 

PTI Chairman Imran Khan has said all Pakistanis should offer prayer of thanks over the Avenfield case verdict.

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif has rejected the verdict “strongly” saying history would remember it in “black words”.

Renowned journalist Kamran Khan

Renowned journalist Kamran Khan took on twitter to say:

Moreover, commenting on the verdict Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) leader Khursheed Shah said the timing of the verdict is not good as it would benifit Nawaz Sharif.

Veteran poltician Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad said Nawaz Sharif wants the people to come out on the roads to whom ‘they didn’t even provide basic facilities’.