LAHORE: Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s children Hassan, Hussain and Maryam as well as son-in-law retired Captain Safdar will skip the third consecutive accountability proceedings on Monday despite the issuance of bailable arrest warrants.

“Since Mian sahib’s children are busy looking after their mother [Kulsoom Nawaz] they are unlikely to appear in the accountability court in Islamabad on Oct 2,” Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah told Dawn here on Saturday.

He said Mr Sharif’s children could not leave their mother considering her illness. Begum Kulsoom has undergone three surgeries in connection with lymphoma (throat cancer) in London. Her condition is stable, according to Maryam.

“Begum Kulsoom’s condition necessitates that her family stay with her. Nawaz Sharif may also leave for London after his appearance in the accountability court on Monday,” Mr Sanaullah said.

Ex-PM to attend indictment proceedings of accountability court on Oct 2

The former prime minister will be indicted by the accountability court on Monday in three graft cases filed against him. “Nawaz Sharif has decided to appear before the accountability court in NAB references in order to expose the targeted trial,” the law minister said, adding that justice was being compromised in this case.

“We do not have any faith in this trial as justice should be visible,” he said.

Skipping court proceedings for the third consecutive time may result in the court issuing non-bailable warrants, a legal expert warns. “The accountability court may issue non-bailable arrest warrants for the suspects for skipping the proceedings for the third consecutive time. However, in normal practice, non-bailable arrest warrants are issued for continuous non-compliance of the court’s order,” Supreme Court Advocate Mubeen Qazi told Dawn.

However, it is the court’s discretion to issue non-bailable arrests warrants or give the suspects another chance in any case. “In [the case of] continuous non-appearance, the National Accountability Bureau may write to the interior ministry requesting the issuance of red warrants for the suspect,” Advocate Qazi said.

Maryam, who is active on social media, especially after arriving in London, did not reveal whether she was planning to appear before the court or not. She had earlier advised her father not to appear in the accountability court — counsel which he ignored.

On Saturday Maryam tweeted: “What was the ‘ilzam’ (allegation) in Panama Papers case? There was no ilzam. Had there been anything scandalous in it, they wouldn’t have to hide behind iqama (work permit). He (Nawaz) could have been disqualified for being Nawaz Sharif. That could have been the most plausible excuse.”

NAB has sent bailable arrest warrants issued by an accountability court in Islamabad on Sept 26 for Mr Sharif’s children and son-in-law to their residences in Lahore and London.

Mr Sharif appeared before the accountability court on Sept 26 in connection with three corruption references filed by NAB against him and his family members. However, the court declined Mr Sharif’s request for exemption from personal attendance.

The Supreme Court had disqualified Mr Sharif on July 28 in the Panama Papers case and ordered NAB to file corruption and money laundering references against the Sharif family and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in the light of the Joint Investigation Team’s report. Mr Dar has already been indicted in the reference against him for possessing assets beyond his known sources of income.

Published in Dawn, October 1st, 2017