The accountability court hearing four corruption cases against deposed Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members will announce its verdict in one of them on Friday, just weeks before general elections in the country.
Sharif and his three children are facing four corruption cases in the accountability court after the National Accountability Bureau filed cases against them following the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Panama Papers case last year that led to the disqualification of the three-time prime minister, who also headed the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party.
The accountability court, hearing the case of the Avenfield properties in London reserved its verdict today and said it will be announced on 6 July. The verdict comes ahead of the general elections in Pakistan on 25 July.
The announcement by the accountability court judge, Mohammad Bashir, came shortly after the counsel for Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz concluded his final arguments.
Sharif, 68, has been disqualified by the Supreme Court, which has barred him from holding public office for life.
Sharif is currently in London as his wife Kulsoom Nawaz is undergoing treatment for throat cancer. On Monday, the court had granted Sharif and Maryam two-day exemption from the proceedings.
The charges include ownership of four posh London flats that resurfaced in Panama Papers. Sharif denied the ownership of the flats but said they were owned by his son Hussain Nawaz in 2006. However, the Sharif family admitted that they were residing in the flats since 1993.
In a statement before the court, it was submitted that the flats were owned by a Qatari consortium, which later transferred the ownership to the Sharif family in 2006.
The accountability court has heard the case for nine and a half months.
Sharif’s sons, Hasan and Hussain, have already been declared absconders in the case.
The Sharifs have denied any corruption and wrongdoing. The former prime minister has described the corruption charges against him and his family as politically motivated.
The trial against the Sharif family had commenced on 14 September, 2017.
The corruption cases filed against the Sharifs, pertain to the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment, offshore companies including Flagship Investment Limited, and Avenfield properties of London.
Nawaz and his sons, Hussain and Hasan, are accused in all three cases while his daughter Maryam and son-in-law Safdar are accused in the Avenfield case only.
According to the Joint Investigation Team report submitted in the Panamagate case, the Sharifs had given contradictory statements about their London flats and found that the flats actually belonged to them since 1993, Pakistani media reported.
The JIT observed that either Hassan Nawaz or Hussain Nawaz or both brothers had lied to hide some facts and hence they could not be given the benefit of doubt, the reports said.
If convicted, the Sharif family members could spend several years in jail.
News credit : Firstpost