Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was convicted on Monday by an accountability court in the Al Azizia reference and sentenced to seven years in jail. He has been acquitted in the Flagship reference.
A $25 million fine has also been imposed on him. He has been taken into custody by NAB. His legal team have asked the court to send him to Lahore instead of the Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi. Judge Arshad Malik allowed Nawaz to be shifted to the Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore. However, he will spend the night at Adiala.
He has been disqualified from holding public office for 10 years.
His sons Hassan and Hussain have been declared absconders. The court has also ordered that his assets be seized. His assets will be what he has declared, however, that is not public yet. Normally, the amount of assets seized are according to the punishment or case. The court may have set a limit on the value of the assets to be seized. One asset that will not be seized is the Sharifs’ Raiwind home, as it is in his mother’s name. The title of accounts is also changed as part of the seizing process.
Speaking after the verdict was announced, Nawaz said his conscience is clear and that the corruption charges against him could not be proven. He also told journalists who asked why Maryam Nawaz wasn’t at the court that he had stopped her from coming. She would have come and gotten worried, he said.
His daughter Maryam took to Twitter to react to the sentence. She slammed the ‘blind revenge’ behind the verdict and said the final victory would be her father’s. In a series of tweets she said if there was any proof of his crimes, they wouldn’t have made the 10,000 Dirhams an excuse. They wouldn’t have had to use our family business and personal dealings in their case either, she said.
ایک ہی شخص کو چوتھی بار سزا ۔
اندھے انتقام کی آخری ہچکی
مگر فتح نواز شریف کی۔ اللّہ کا شکر،
ڈھائی سال کے طویل انتقام نما احتساب کے بعد، تین نسلیں کھنگالنے کے بعد، ایک پائی کی کرپشن نہ کِک بیک نہ کمشن۔ نا سرکاری خزانے میں رتی بھر خیانت۔
— Maryam Nawaz Sharif (@MaryamNSharif) December 24, 2018
Senator Mushahidullah said that this verdict will not have a positive impact on the country. He said people who have tried to take revenge against them, will have to answer for it.
Barrister Masroor Shah told SAMAA TV that NAB law allows people to challenge their convictions within 10 days of being sentenced. NAB is also allowed to appeal the verdict in the Flagship reference, in which Nawaz was acquitted.
PML-N workers have blocked the Kashmir Highway to protest against the verdict. Workers outside the court burst into tears and began shouting slogans against the verdict.
Nawaz left for the accountability court at 1:50pm. He was accompanied by his nephew Hamza Shehbaz, former Sindh governor Mohammad Zubair and Pervez Rasheed. He was at Abbas Afridi’s farmhouse in Chak Shahzad where he met his lawyers and party leaders.
He arrived at the accountability court at 2:20pm and was driven there by Hamza. However, he has not been able to reach the judicial complex yet because of the number of PML-N workers outside. PML-N workers climbed onto his car and tried to enter the court.
Police have begun teargas shelling after PML-N workers and the authorities clashed outside the court. The PML-N workers also threw stones at the police.
The Rangers arrived at the scene to control the situation. The PML-N workers physically moved the barbed wire and barricades placed to stop them from getting to the accountability court.
The verdict was reserved on December 19. He arrived in Islamabad on Sunday.
Nawaz has been ready since 8:30am to appear before the court, says Tariq Fazal Chaudhry. The Islamabad administration and the capital security institutions have advised us that until they give us the security clearance, we should not come to court, he said. They are the ones who are in touch with the court, he said, adding that they have been told there is some delay in the verdict.
Only Nawaz, his legal team and 30 PML-N leaders were allowed inside the court. A select few media persons were also be allowed in.
To discourage the gathering of PML-N workers, the judicial complex was sealed from all sides and routes leading to it have been sealed with containers. The police and elite force guarded the court from the outside, while the Rangers were in charge of security within the court. The Bomb Disposal Squad scanned the court building first thing in the morning. People entering the court had to undergo three checks before being allowed in.
The hearing was set for 9:30am and Judge Malik was expected to announce the verdict some time between 9:30am and 10am. No other cases were heard on Monday as all eyes are on Accountability Court II.
At 11am, the prosecution team arrived at the court.
The list of PML-N leaders allowed to enter the courtroom includes the leaders who have been accompanying Nawaz for the past 15 months. This includes Marriyum Aurangzeb, Asif Kirmani and Pervez Rashid, Rana Tanveer and Javed Hashmi. Aurangzeb reached the court well before 8am and was the first leader to arrive. Hashmi and Tanveer have also arrived. Iqbal Zafar Jhangra and Senator Mushahidullah are also present.
Nawaz was sentenced to 10 years in prison in the Avenfield reference on July 6. He was released on September 19 after the sentence was suspended by the Islamabad High Court.
The trial has been completed in 15 months after a total of 183 hearings, of which 130 were attended by Nawaz. The prosecution presented 22 witnesses in the Al Azizia reference and 16 in the Flagship case.
Despite all the evidence against him, Nawaz has repeatedly denied the allegations and said he doesn’t need to present anything in his defence.
The Al Azizia/Hill Metal and Flagship references refer to Nawaz owning more assets than his known sources of income. The properties were established by Nawaz’s son in Saudi Arabia (Al Azizia) and the United Kingdom (Flagship Investment) in 2001. The court wants to know how the Sharif family was able to build an empire when they were in exile and had no money or assets.
On December 21, the party leadership decided that an advisory council will run the PML-N’s affairs if Nawaz is arrested. The party leadership considered the names of Raja Zafarul Haq, Khawaja Asif, Ahsan Iqbal, Pervaiz Rashid, Marriyum Aurangzeb and Rana Sanaullah for the head of the advisory council.
Nawaz’s sons, Hassan and Hussain, have been named in the reference too. They have been declared proclaimed offenders and their arrest warrants have been issued. An accountability court had decided to separate their trials because of their continued absences.