Pakistan

ISLAMABAD – The Islamabad High Court will take up the pleas filed by imprisoned members of Sharif family against their convictions in the Avenfield case.

A two-member bench, comprising Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani and Justice Gul Hassan Aurangzaib, will hear the appeals filed by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar, who are serving their terms in Adiala Jail.

On July 6, the trial court handed a 10-year sentence and £8 million (Rs1.29 billion) to Pakistan’s former prime minister in a corruption reference pertaining to Sharif family’s Avenfield apartment in London, UK.

Maryam Nawaz, daughter of Sharif, was also sentenced to seven years in jail for forgery and making assets through illegal sources in the landmark decision. She has been ordered to pay a fine of £2 million (Rs320 million). Capt (r) Safdar Awan, who is the son-in-law of Nawaz Sharif, was jailed for one year for cheating.

After the convicts were shifted to Adiala Jail, Khawaja Harris filed application against the Avenfiled verdic on the behalf of the former premier, while Amjad Pervaiz submitted the pleas from the side of Maryam and Safdar.

The high court has been pleaded to suspend the verdict announced by the accountability court and ordered to release the convicts until the appeals are decided.

The appeals highlight the flaws in the judgment passed by accountability judge Mohammad Bashir. The Sharif family has also requested the IHC to declared the Avenfield verdict null and void as it did not fulfill the legal requirements.

The appeal states that Panamagate Joint Investigation Team (JIT) head and prosecution’s star witness Wajid Zia himself accepted that a response to the mutual legal assistance (MLA) request was not received. It further said that levelling allegations without receiving a response to the MLA was mala fide.

At the last hearing, the high court declared the appeals maintainable and issued notices to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and also sought the complete record of trial.

Nawaz’s counsel Khawja Harris also requested the court to issue a stay order on the trial court’s orders, to which, the court summoned NAB officials by the last week of July.

Justice Kayani remarked that setence awarded to Sharifs could not be suspended without hearing the anti-graft watchdog officials.