He was convicted in 2018
The Islamabad High Court has dismissed the appeals filed by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif challenging his sentences in the Avenfield and Al-Azizia references.
A two-member bench, comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, announced its reserved verdict on Thursday. The court said that his pleas have been dismissed because he is a proclaimed offender.
Muhammad Nawaz Sharif was tried and convicted by an accountability court in Islamabad in 2018, said the verdict authored by Justice Farooq. “He has been declared an absconder i.e. fugitive from the law after following the codal formalities for procuring his attendance before this court.
“Nawaz Sharif was provided a fair trial in as much as learned trial court provided him the opportunity of hearing as well as cross-examining the prosecution witnesses and only after the proper trial, his conviction was recorded; he despite being on bail, proceeded abroad and did not appear before this court and without any justification or basis, remained basis on a number of dates of hearing hence this court was left with no option but to declare him fugitive from the law.”
He has, however, lost his “right to the audience before this court and we are left with no choice except to dismiss his appeal.” It remarked that he may file an application before this court, as and when he surrenders or is captured by the authorities, for a decision of the appeal on merits.
“Needless to observe that the said application, if and when is made, shall be decided in accordance with the law,” it added.
The PML-N founder, a three-time former premier, is in the UK for medical treatment. He was sentenced to seven and 10 years in prison in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Avenfield flats references respectively. The former premier’s sentence in the Al-Azizia reference was suspended. He has filed an appeal seeking its annulment.
NAB has filed appeals to increase his sentence to 14 years in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills case. It seeks an end to the suspension of Nawaz’s sentence in the Avenfield case too.
In October 2019, the IHC had granted Nawaz bail on humanitarian grounds. The government allowed him to leave the country in November 2019 for medical treatment in London after his health deteriorated.
Nawaz hasn’t returned since. His bail expired in February 2020. In November 2020, the Islamabad High Court issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Nawaz.