Pakistan court sentences Nawaz Sharif to 10 years in jail in Avenfield case, daughter Maryam gets 7 years
Ousted Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been sentenced to 10 years in jail while his daughter Maryam Nawaz has been sentenced to seven years in an anti-corruption case related to the ownership of luxurious London properties.
Accountability Court-I Judge Mohammad Bashir handed down the sentence on Wednesday after several delays. Nawaz's son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar was also given a one-year sentence. While Nawaz has been slapped with a fine of 8 million pounds, his daughter will have to cough up two million pounds as penalty.
Sharif on Wednesday appealed to the courts to delay the judgment while he is in London tending his wife, who is being treated for cancer. But the petition was dismissed by the court.
The court also ruled that the Avenfield apartments of the Sharif family, in their possession since 1993, shall be seized by the federal government.
The verdict comes a year after the National Accountability Bureau filed a case in the accountability court against the Sharifs, including his sons Hussain, Hassan, daughter Maryam and son-in-law Muhammad Safdar.
Then finance minister Ishq Dar was also named in the case. The references filed included those relating to four properties in Avenfield - flats no 16, 16-A, 17, 17-A, Avenfield House, Park Lane in London.
The London properties were mentioned in the Panama Papers. The bureau filed the cases saying that the properties were bought with illegitimate money. The leaked Panama documents showed that the flats were owned by shell companies registered in popular tax haven British Virgin Islands and that Maryam and Hussain used assets from those companies to take a loan, worth about 7 million pounds from Deutsche Bank.
In May earlier this year, Sharif recorded his statement and his daughter denied any role in the ownership of the flats and the shell companies.
In June, the NAB prosecutor told the court that Nawaz was the actual owner of the flats and the same month, Nawaz’s counsel withdrew from the case after the Supreme Court that the trial needed to be completed in a month.
The decision, just weeks before the country heads to the polls on July 25, comes at a time of intensifying allegations of military meddling in politics and media claims that the press is being muzzled.
Sharif has a history of differences with the military, which has ruled the nuclear-armed country for almost half of its history, and ousted him from power in 1999 in a bloodless coup.
Since his removal by the Supreme Court in July 2017, Sharif has argued that the military establishment, aided by top members of the judiciary, is using a series of cases against him and others in his party to tip the scales in favour of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan.
Sharif, 67, resigned in July after the Supreme Court disqualified him from holding office over an undeclared source of income, but the veteran leader maintains his grip on the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party.
Khan is running on a socially conservative, anti-corruption platform. He denies colluding with the military establishment and praises the disqualifications and prosecutions of PML-N figures as a long-needed crackdown on graft.
Last month, former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was barred from running in his home constitutency by the election commission. The ban was later overturned.
* 1949 - Nawaz Sharif is born into a Kashmiri family of industrialists in the eastern city of Lahore. He later graduates with a law degree from Punjab University and goes to work in the family steel business
* 1976 - Enters politics, joining the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) after the Sharif family steel business was nationalised under the government of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the beginning of a long political rivalry between the families.
* 1981 - Joins the Punjab provincial cabinet as finance minister, becoming Punjab's chief minister in 1985. The PML later split and Nawaz formed the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
* 1990 - First elected prime minister.
* 1993 - Removed as prime minister by Pakistan's president. He is reinstated by Supreme Court but then resigns under pressure and his party loses elections to the Pakistan People's Party of Benazir Bhutto, daughter of Zulfiqar Bhutto.
* 1997- Elected prime minister for second time. During his term, Pakistan successfully tests nuclear weapons in response to regional rival India's atomic programme.
* 1999 - Overthrown in a military coup by General Pervez Musharraf, the country's fourth army takeover since independence in 1947. After the coup, he was convicted of corruption and given a life sentence for hijacking over an incident when he ordered Musharraf's plane not to land in Islamabad.
* 2000-2007 - Allowed to go into exile in Saudi Arabia in 2000 amid reports of a deal with the military, he was given a presidential pardon the day his family left.
* 2007 - Returns from exile to contest elections the next year as part of a political deal that ended Musharraf's military rule.
* 2008 - Loses election to the party of Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated ahead of the polls.
* 2013 - Elected prime minister for third time. The PML-N sweeps back to power in an election the gives its allies a solid National Assembly majority.
* April 4, 2016 - The leaked Panama Papers show involvement of Sharif's family in offshore companies including two used to buy luxury homes in London.
* Oct. 28, 2016 - Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan threatens to paralyse the capital, Islamabad, with a “lockdown” of street protests unless demands for an independent investigation into the Panama revelations are met. Sharif denies any wrongdoing.
* Nov. 2, 2016 - Supreme Court agrees to set up a judicial commission to probe corruption allegations against Sharif, stemming from Panama Papers leaks. Khan backs down from lockdown threat.
* July 28, 2017 - Supreme Court declares Sharif disqualified from office for not declaring income from a company in United Arab Emirates, which was not in original Panama Papers revelations. The court also orders the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to open a criminal trial into ownership of the London flats along with several other Panama Papers revelations.
* April 13, 2018 - The Supreme Court further rules Sharif is banned from political office for life.
* July 6, 2018 - The NAB court convicts Sharif of corruption and sentences him in absentia to 10 years in prison.