Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz, and son-in-law retired Captain Mohammad Safdar challenged their conviction by an accountability court in the Avenfield corruption reference in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday.
The court on July 6 had sentenced Nawaz to 10 years in prison for owning assets beyond known income, along with a fine of £8 million. Maryam was given seven years jail time and a fine of £2 million, as the court found her guilty of being "instrumental in concealment of the properties of her father". Capt Safdar was handed one year in jail for failure to cooperate with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), and for aiding and abetting Nawaz and Maryam.
The three convicts filed seven separate appeals — three by Nawaz and two each by Maryam and Safdar — pertaining to the corruption references against them.
Advocate Khawaja Haris filed the appeals on behalf of Nawaz; one urging the court to overturn the accountability court's verdict in the Avenfield reference, another to suspend the said verdict until the IHC passes a decision regarding the NAB court's verdict, and a third requesting the court to transfer the two remaining corruption references against Nawaz to another judge.
Amjad Pervaiz filed two appeals each on behalf of Maryam and Safdar. One of the petitions urged the IHC to overturn the accountability court's verdict in the Avenfield corruption reference, while the second requested the suspension of the sentence until the IHC passes a judgement on the matter.
The challenges to the Avenfield verdict urged the IHC to overturn the judgement, saying that it was announced without fulfilling the "requirements of justice". The appeals also argued that until the IHC announces its verdict regarding the accountability court's decision, the convicts should be released on bail.
The appellants pointed out that NAB had declared the Avenfield flats were worth more than Nawaz's known income but failed to take into account the value of the flats at the time of their purchase.
Furthermore, the petition claimed that the chart of the Sharif family’s assets and liabilities as their "known sources of income", which was produced in the accountability court, was not submitted by the head of the Panama Papers case joint investigation team ─ who was NAB's star witness ─ and did not bear the signatures of any officials either.
The petition observed that the court had announced the verdict in absentia, even though the Sharifs had appealed to the court to delay the judgement for seven days.
At the time of the verdict, both Nawaz and Maryam were in London where Kulsoom Nawaz, who is battling cancer, is reportedly on life support. Safdar was in Pakistan but was not present in court.
Source: The Dawn