Monday, February 25, 2019
Web Desk

IHC rejects Nawaz Sharif’s plea seeking suspension of sentence in Al-Aziza reference

Former prime minister was seeking suspension of his sentence on medical grounds

Web Desk

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday dismissed a petition seeking the suspension of the seven-year sentence handed to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the Al-Azizia reference.

A bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani announced the decision on Nawaz's plea seeking bail and suspension of the sentence on medical grounds.

The nine-page verdict stated this is not a case pertaining to unusual circumstances. No unique circumstances could be proven in Nawaz's case.

Bail cannot be granted in light of the Supreme Court's previous decisions, it added. Nawaz is being provided medical treatment, the bench further stated.

On February 20, the IHC had reserved its decision on the petition after both sides concluded their arguments.

Nawaz is currently admitted in Jinnah Hospital where he was shifted from Kot Lakhpat Jail on February 15. 

On December 24, 2018, Accountability Court II Judge Arshad Malik had sentenced Nawaz to seven years in prison along with a fine of Rs1.5 billion and US$25 million in the Al-Azizia corruption reference. 

Will take all possible legal routes against decision: PML-N leaders 

Speaking to the media outside the IHC after the verdict was announced, PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said, “We are upset about the decision, five medical boards had recommended immediate medical treatment for Nawaz."

"We were hopeful that Nawaz’s bail will be accepted for his medical treatment," he added. Stating that the party has always respected court decisions, Abbasi said, "We respect this decision as well."

"We will take all possible legal routes against the decision,” he announced.

Former defence minister Khawaja Asif also spoke to the media and said, “We will take all available legal routes against the decision and because it is our right, we will also file an appeal. We are hopeful that justice will be served.”

Al-Azizia reference details

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.