Nawaz Sharif’s bid to secure a release gets a jolt
Court indefinitely postpones hearing seeking suspension of sentence
Islamabad: A top court in Pakistan on Monday indefinitely postponed hearing of a petition filed by jailed former premier Nawaz Sharif seeking suspension of his sentence in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills case.
On December 24, 2018, Accountability Court II Judge Arshad Malik sentenced 69-year-old Sharif to seven years in prison along with a fine of Rs 1.5 billion and USD 25 million in the Al-Azizia corruption case, concluding a series of three court cases against the Sharif family in the high-profile Panama Papers scandal.
The three-time former premier is serving his term in Lahore’s KotLakhpat Jail.
Sharif filed an appeal against his conviction in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) and a petition to suspend sentence until adjudication on appeal.
A two-member IHC bench led by Chief Justice AtharMinallah heard the petition and postponed it with the observation that it can only be heard after hearing of the appeal started.
The court has so far not set any date for hearing of Sharif’s appeal.
In the appeal filed through his lawyer in the Islamabad High Court, Sharif argued that he was convicted on the basis of presumptions and his sentence should be set aside.
He said the trial court verdict was based on misunderstandings as it failed to properly evaluate the objections by the defence.
Three cases – Avenfield properties case, Flagship investment case and Al-Azizia steel mills case – were launched against the Sharif family by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on September 8, 2017 following a judgment by the Supreme Court that disqualified Sharif in the Panama Papers case in July last year.
In July, 2018 Sharif, his daughter Maryam and his son-in-law Captain (retd) M Safdar were sentenced to 10 years, seven years and one year respectively in prison in the Avenfield properties case related to their purchase of four luxury flats in London through corrupt practices. However, the three were bailed out by the Islamabad High Court in September.
Sharif was acquitted in the Flagship case due to insufficient evidence.
His two sons – Hasan and Hussain – were accused in all the three graft cases.
Sharif has maintained that the cases against him were initiated on the basis of allegations levelled by his political rivals and the report of a joint investigation team in the Panama Papers case was biased. (PTI)