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Nawaz sentenced to 10 years, Maryam 7 in Avenfield reference

Nawaz sentenced to 10 years, Maryam 7 in Avenfield reference

ISLAMABAD: An accountability court handed a 10 year sentence to Pakistan’s former prime minister in a corruption reference pertaining to Sharif family’s Avenfield apartment in London, UK.

In the 100-page decision, Accountability Judge Mohammad Bashir also sentenced Sharif’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz, to seven year in jail for forgery and making assets through illegal sources in the landmark decision. Moreover, the judge ordered to seize the property in question, suggesting the government to do legislation to bring plundered money back to the country.

Capt (r) Safdar Awan, who is the son-in-law of Nawaz Sharif, was fined and jailed for two years for cheating.

The Friday’s verdict is in line with Section 9 of the NAB Ordinance, 1999, which pertains to corruption and corrupt practices.

Nawaz Sharif, along with his children, heard the verdict in the British capital where he is tending his ailing wife, Kulsoom Nawaz.

Earlier this week, on July 3, the court had reserved the verdict in the Avenfield reference, which pertains to the Park Lane apartments (flats 16, 16-A, 17, and 17-A Avenfield House, Park Lane) of the Sharif family, involving Nawaz Sharif, his three children, and son-in-law Capt (r) Safdar as the accused.

The reference is among three filed on the Supreme Court’s directives last year against the Sharif family by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the Panama Papers case.

Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Safdar have been in London since June 14 tending to Kulsoom Nawaz, who is under medical treatment there.

Mr. Sharif, who ruled the country for three times, had requested the anti-corruption body on Wednesday to delay the verdict saying, “My wife has been on a ventilator since the last 21 days. I want to hear the verdict in the courtroom where I have presented myself with my daughter over 100 times.”

“I am not a dictator who will run away from the courts,” the 68-year-old said on Wednesday from London.

In a series of tweets (in Urdu), she said it was a positive sign in the situation that there is a leader who stands firm for “your honor, for country’s honour and the sanctity of your vote and is prepared to sacrifice everything.

“Despite knowing it is not an easy path,and that he will have to pay the price for choosing this path, he has chosen this path and paid the heavy price,” she said.

“Thanks to Almighty these forces failed to bring him (Nawaz) to his knees despite acute adversities,” Maryam wrote on her official twitter handle.

“Judgment will be given on July 25. Remember the faces of these schemers and pawns on that day. Now or never. Inshallah,victory awaits you.”

The Sharifs and their supporters have repeatedly denied allegations of corruption, suggesting the former prime minister is the victim of a conspiracy driven by Pakistan’s powerful military establishment.

Nawaz Sharif was the 15th prime minister in Pakistan’s 70-year history – roughly half of it under military rule – to be removed before completing a full term.

The court ruling comes just days ahead of general elections, pitting the PML-N against its main rival, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party led by former cricket star Imran Khan.

Strict security arrangements are in place, with paramilitary troops deputed 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.

If convicted, the accused can face up to a 14-year imprisonment and lifelong disqualification from holding public offices, as well as the freezing of bank accounts and assets.