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IHC orders release of Sharifs, suspends Avenfield reference conviction

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court has suspended the conviction of former premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain (retd) Safdar in the Avenfield reference on Wednesday.

The much-awaited verdict of IHC was announced on Wednesday of the petitions filed by the Sharif family against their conviction in the Avenfield reference, and ordered the accused to submit surety bonds worth Rs 0.5 million each.

Mian Gul Hassan Aurangzeb and Justice Athar Minallah of IHC heard the case with the latter announcing the verdict, much to the relief of the Sharif’s.

Earlier in August, IHC had accepted the appeals filed by the former ruling family and the accused would no more be incarcerated till the court announces the final verdict on the appeals.

The petitions were filed by the Sharif family against their conviction in the Avenfield reference filed by the National Accountability Bureau in line with the Panama papers case verdict.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was sentenced to 10 years in jail, his daughter Maryam was sentenced to seven years while son-in-law Captain (r) Safdar was sentenced to one year in prison by the accountability court Judge Muhammad Bashir in July.

They all were imprisoned in the Adiala jail after Nawaz Sharif and his daughter returned to the country from London.

At the start of the hearing, Justice Athar Minallah grilled the NAB prosecutor and inquired about the age of Maryam Nawaz in 1993.

‘Your case is based on the assumption that the actual owner of London flats is Nawaz Sharif instead of Maryam Nawaz,’ observed the court.

The IHC bench remarked that according to the investigations, the ownership of London flats is difficult to be attributed to former premier Nawaz Sharif.

The NAB prosecutor argued that there was no proof regarding the transfer of 12m AED adding that till 2012, Maryam Nawaz was the beneficial owner of the said properties.

‘Provide any evidence substantiating ownership of London flats by Nawaz Sharif,’ observed Justice Athar in point-blank remarks.

‘Nawaz Sharif is difficult to be traced in the case,’ remarked Justice Athar Minallah and wondered if the trust deed was bogus, how could the sentence be handed out to the accused.

 

During the last hearing of the case, Justice Athar Minallah remarked it was assumed that the upscale London properties were in possession of children of Nawaz Sharif, with him being the actual owner.

At the onset of the hearing, Justice Athar Minallah remarked that the second verdict in the Panama Papers case was a binding on all the judges as it bears signatures of all, however, the interim order was not of a binding nature.

Justice Aurangzeb observed that in the first order, Nawaz Sharif was not disqualified and it was a minority judgment.

Justice Athar Minallah observed that according to the Sharif family’s counsel, the chart regarding the income was not presented by star witness Wajid Zia adding that even the investigative officer was oblivious of the individual who devised the chart.

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