Monday Dec 24, 2018
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired on Monday a high-level party meeting after an accountability court sentenced former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to seven years in prison in Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference, while acquitting him in the Flagship Investment reference, sources said.
The prime minister had summoned a meeting of party leaders as the accountability court announced its verdicts in the remaining two corruption references against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif today.
Sources said that opinion of the party leaders was sought in wake of the court’s verdict.
The PM personally gave directions to the party spokesperson to issue a reaction in this regard, sources informed.
It was decided in the meeting that a proper reaction would be given in the favour of the former prime minister’s sentencing.
Accountability Court II Judge Arshad Malik had reserved the verdicts in Flagship Investment and Al-Azizia references against the Sharif family on Wednesday.
The trial against the Sharif family commenced on September 14, 2017.
On July 6, after four extensions in the original six-month deadline to conclude all three cases, the accountability court announced its verdict in the Avenfield reference. Nawaz, his daughter Maryam and son-in-law Captain (retd) Safdar were sentenced to 11 years, eight years and one year, respectively, in prison.
Nawaz and Maryam were released from jail on September 19 after the Islamabad High Court suspended their sentences in the Avenfield case.
Nawaz and his sons, Hussain and Hasan, are accused in all three references whereas Maryam and Safdar were accused in the Avenfield reference only.
The two brothers, based abroad, have been absconding since the proceedings began last year and were declared proclaimed offenders by the court.
The charge against the family is that Hassan Nawaz Sharif, the former premier’s youngest son, set up an investment firm in 2001, with an office registered in the United Kingdom. At the time he was 25-years-old.
Nawaz has never accepted any connection with his son’s business, although the Bureau alleges that his name was listed as chairman of the board, further adding that Hasan was under the guardianship of his father till 1995.
Earlier this month, during a hearing, the NAB stated that Nawaz Sharif even received an amount of 0.78 million AED from the investment firm that he claims to have no stake in.
The accountability court had to determine how and from where did Hasan get the funds to set up the investment firm.
Hussain Nawaz Sharif, the former prime minister’s elder son, claims that he received a sum of $5.4 million from his grandfather to establish the steel conglomerate in Saudi Arabia. The payment was made by a Qatari royal on the request of the elder Sharif. Thereafter, scrap machinery was transported from their Ahli Steel Mills in Dubai to Jeddah to establish Al-Azizia in 2001.
The JIT constituted to investigate the graft allegations insisted that the real owner of the mills was Nawaz Sharif, and it was being operated by his son on his behalf. Hussain was 29-years-old at the time. The JIT also held that Nawaz Sharif received 97 per cent profit as ‘gifts’ from Hill Metals Establishment, another company established by Hussain Nawaz Sharif in 2005, in Saudi Arabia.
Of the amount, Nawaz Sharif transferred 77 percent to his daughter, Maryam Nawaz Sharif. (Maryam is not accused in this reference). Here as well, the NAB claims that since Sharif received a large profit from Hussain’s companies, he is the real owner and not his son. However, during the proceedings the NAB could not substantiate its claim through documentary evidences and instead placed the burden of proof on the accused.