Nawaz Sharif has been awarded 10 years and Maryam Nawaz has been awarded seven in the Avenfield case. Maryam’s husband Captain (retd) Safdar has been awarded one year.
Maryam has been fined two million pounds (Rs322 million). Nawaz has been fined eight million pounds (Rs1.2 billion). Maryam has also been also found guilty of forging documents, for which she has been awarded an extra year.
The court has ordered that the Avenfield apartments be handed over to the federal government.
Hassan and Hussain Nawaz have been declared absconders and the NAB prosecutor has said that they will be brought back to Pakistan with the help of Interpol.
The NAB prosecutor said the judgment proves that the assets were purchased with illegal money.
Maryam has been disqualified from contesting the elections. The ECP has said that another candidate can contest from NA-127 in Maryam’s place.
PML-N leader Tariq Fazal Chaudhry said Nawaz will come back to Pakistan before the July 25 elections. He urged PML-N workers not to take the law into their own hands and said Nawaz was not a coward, unlike former dictator Pervez Musharraf.
After the judgment was announced, PML-N workers and supporters began to cry outside the court. They began ripping off their clothes and protested against the verdict.
Chaudhry said they will approach the high court against the verdict. The party will not boycott the elections, he said.
The judgment in the Avenfield corruption reference, which will decide the fate of the Sharif family, has been delayed for another half an hour. The judge and lawyers are having a closed courtroom discussion.
Accountability court judge Muhammad Bashir has arrived at the courtroom to read out the ruling in the Avenfield corruption reference.
He has called the lawyers of NAB and the Sharif family to the rostrum. Reporters have been asked to leave and the courtroom has been locked. Reporters are collecting information from a bathroom window.
The time of the ruling was first changed from 12:30pm to 2:30pm. At 2:30pm, the court said the ruling will be issued at 3pm. At 3pm, the court said the verdict will be announced at 3:30pm.
On the other hand, a large number of PML-N workers have gathered outside the accountability court.
At 11am, Bashir rejected Nawaz’s plea to reserve the verdict in the Avenfield corruption reference and said the ruling will be announced at 12:30pm.
The judge arrived at the Federal Judicial Complex at 9:35am on Friday. He heard Nawaz’s request to delay the verdict and earlier reserved his decision for an hour.
Lawyer Amjad Pervaiz requested the court to delay the verdict for a week. The former PM has not mentioned a date for his return in his application. The lawyer also presented a medical certificate of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz dated July 3 before the court.
On the other hand, NAB requested the court to reject the plea. If rejected, the decision will be announced right away and the Sharifs might be sent to jail.
At 11am, the judge rejected Nawaz’s plea.
If a general writes the verdict, it will be against former PM Nawaz Sharif just like it was on July 28, said Capt (retd) Safdar.
If a judge writes the verdict, it will be in Nawaz’s favour, said Capt (retd) Safdar.
PML-N leader Raja Zafarul Haq said that Nawaz will soon come to Pakistan. He arrived at the accountability court on Friday minutes before the judge, Muhammad Bashir, was expected to read out the verdict.
“We have asked our workers not to take to the streets,” he said. According to him, Capt (retd) Safdar is in Pakistan and nobody is going anywhere. Capt (retd) Safdar has yet to arrive at the court.
Nawaz and his family have been facing trial before the accountability court. Three corruption references were initiated against them after the Supreme Court disqualified Mr Sharif for life from holding public office. The ruling in one of the references, which pertains to the Sharif family’s London properties, is expected on Friday.
Nawaz, his daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif and son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar are accused in the case. His sons, Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz, have been declared proclaimed offenders.
PML-N leader Asif Kirmani came to the court but left after the judge rejected Mr Sharif’s plea at 11am. The lawyer of Mr Sharif, Khawaja Haris, has yet to arrive.
NAB prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar said at the court that former PM Nawaz Sharif could be sentenced to 14 years in prison under Section 14.
A large number of police and Rangers personnel are present at the Federal Judicial Complex, where the accountability court is located. Two armoured personnel vehicles are also stationed outside the court. The district administration has also imposed Section 144 in Islamabad.
Delay or not?
On Tuesday, the accountability court reserved its decision in the Avenfield reference. It announced that the verdict will be issued on Friday. It also issued notices to the accused, asking them to appear on the day.
On the other hand, the former PM and his daughter have been in London since June 15. They had initially gone to spend Eid with former first lady Begum Kulsoom Nawaz. However, Begum Kulsoom suffered a cardiac arrest a day before her husband and daughter arrived. She has been on life support at the Harley Street Clinic since June 14.
On Wednesday, Mr Sharif requested the accountability court to delay the announcement of the judgment in the Avenfield case. “I want to see my wife conscious before returning to Pakistan,” he said.
He said that delaying the announcement of the judgment for a few days would not hurt anyone. “I would like to be present in the court when this judgment is passed – the same court where my daughter and I appeared for over a 100 hearings during the past one year,” he said.
Mr Sharif said he would return to Pakistan even if the judgment is against him. “I’m not a dictator who would run away,” he said.
PTI chief Imran Khan said that Mr Sharif will read this judgment in the papers. “Nawaz Sharif says he wants to hear the ruling in person,” he said during his election campaign. “Nawaz Sharif sahib, you will read the verdict in the papers Insha Allah. And we will wait for you to come back to Pakistan. Adiala Jail is ready for you.”
“If Maryam Nawaz contests the elections from NA-127 and is allowed to run her campaign, she would win,” said SAMAA TV anchorperson Nadeem Malik. “But for that, Nawaz Sharif has to come back and get arrested so that Maryam Nawaz can run an aggressive campaign for 20 days. This should be their strategy.”
There is no logical reason for another delay of one-and-a-half hours, said Agenda 360 host Haider Waheed when the judge rejected Mr Sharif’s plea at 11am. “The verdict could be announced in half an hour,” he said. “It could have been announced while rejecting the plea as well.”
Thing aren’t look good for Mr Sharif, said Agenda 360 host Moiz Jaferii. “The decision will be against those whose plea has been rejected,” he said. “It’s because of the way the trial was conducted and the way his pleas were rejected.”
Jaferii said that the reason we do not have an example of a court reserving the verdict on the plea of an accused is because such cases have hardly ever been completed in Pakistan. “It’s not usual that a criminal case is decided against you when you are not in the country,” he said.
Jaferii said that Mr Sharif has said time and again that he does not expect justice. “Yet he wants to be there to hear the verdict in person,” he said. “Whatever Nawaz Sharif sahib is doing is also unprecedented.”
“Unfortunately, our liberals could not find any democratic leader other than Nawaz Sharif,” said analyst Adnan Adil. According to him, Mr Sharif took advantage of that. “He is exploiting the freedom of media as well as social media and portraying himself as a victim,” he said.
According to SAMAA TV Islamabad bureau chief Khalid Azeem Chaudhry, the Sharif family would be sentenced under Section 10, not Section 14. “The maximum sentence would be 14 years,” he said. “Properties of the convicts would be seized coupled with 10 years of disqualification. Nawaz Sharif has largely failed to prove that he has no link with the London properties. It was his responsibility under Section 14 to prove he had no link.”
Chaudhry said the extraordinary security measures do not seem to be a good omen for the Sharif family.
“Nawaz Sharif did not answer nearly 350 questions,” said Adil. “When you purchase any property, you have some registration of the transfer of property. Nawaz Sharif could not present any such evidence before the Supreme Court or accountability court. He placed the burden of responsibility of the London properties purchase on his father and children. And then his children ran away.”
According to analyst Hammad Ghaznavi, the case ruling revolves around the question that whether the burden of proof has been shifted on Mr Sharif. “If the shift has happened, the ruling will be against him,” he said. “He will be convicted – as Azeem [Chaudhry] sahib is saying, the burden of proof lies on the accused according to that clause and the accused has to prove. The entire case is this. NAB has not provided any evidence. But if we admit that the burden of proof is on Nawaz Sharif, then we can see him getting convicted.”
Malik said if the Sharif family comes back to Pakistan and goes to the high court to appeal the decision, they may survive politically. If they do not return it will be political suicide, he said.
*With additional input by Roohan Ahmed, Adil Tanoli and Sohail Rasheed in Islamabad
(This is a developing story and will be updated accordingly)