Nawaz Sharif arrives in Islamabad ahead of Monday's verdict in NAB references

Published December 23, 2018
Nawaz Sharif is expected to hear the verdict in the courtroom tomorrow. — File photo
Nawaz Sharif is expected to hear the verdict in the courtroom tomorrow. — File photo

Former premier Nawaz Sharif arrived in Islamabad on Sunday, ahead of the accountability court's verdict in the Al Azizia and Flagship Investment references.

The ousted prime minister is expected to hear the verdict in the courtroom tomorrow.

Nawaz Sharif arrived from Lahore to Islamabad early Sunday and then met his younger brother and Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif at Ministers' Enclave. Shahbaz has been in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in connection with investigations in Ashiyana housing scam since October 5.

Judge Mohammad Arshad Malik is expected to deliver the judgement in both the references on Monday (tomorrow) between 9am-10am. Security around the Judicial Complex in Islamabad has been tightened ahead of tomorrow's verdict, which will decide the fate of the former prime minister.

Hours before the verdict was scheduled to be announced, Nawaz's daughter Maryam broke her silence on Twitter after five months with a post about her parents.

"The last time I saw HER was in the coffin. The last time I saw HIM smile was with HER. May Allah have mercy on both of you. Ameen," she said in a tweet which was accompanied by photos of Nawaz and his late wife Kulsoom.

In September 2017, NAB filed three references against Nawaz Sharif – regarding Avenfield Properties, Al-Azizia, and Flagship Investment – on the Supreme Court's directives in the landmark Panamagate verdict last year which deseated Nawaz as the prime minister.

On July 6, accountability judge Mohammad Bashir handed down convictions to Nawaz, Maryam, and son-in-law Capt Mohammad Safdar (retd) in the Avenfield Properties reference and jailed them for 10 years, seven years and one year respectively. But on Sept 19, the Islamabad High Court granted them bail after suspending the sentence. NAB’s appeal against the suspension of the sentence remains pending before the top court.

The other two references concern the setting up of the Al-Azizia and Hill Metal Establishment in Saudi Arabia, and Flagship Investment in the UK. The accountability court has charged Nawaz in both references under Section 9(a)(v) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.

As per the prosecution, Mian Mohammad Sharif [father of the former prime minister] passed away in 2004 and before the apex court, the Sharif family had taken the plea that while the family was in exile, the late Mian Sharif provided AED 5.4 million for Hussain Nawaz and AED 4.2m for Hasan Nawaz to establish Al-Azizia and Hill Metal Establishment in Saudi Arabia, and Flagship Investment and 16 other companies in the UK.

According to the prosecution, the Sharif family had failed to justify the source of these sums and therefore, this was a case of owning assets beyond means.

The Sharif family took the stance that it was out of AED 12m that the late Mian Sharif invested with the Qatari royal family, the prosecutor said, adding that Qatari Prince Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani had never appeared before the joint investigation team to verify the details.

During final arguments, the defence attorney maintained that the joint investigation team had made no serious effort to record the prince’s testimony, since this would have benefitted the case defence. The latter counsel has taken the plea that the late Mian Sharif established Gulf Steel Mills in the UAE in 1974, that 75 per cent shares of GSM were sold to Abdullah Kayed Ahli and the entity was re-named Ahli Steel Mills (ASM) in 1978, and the remaining 25pc shares were further sold to the ASM in 1980; this amount of AED 12m was invested with the Qatari royal family.

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