In a major relief to former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Mohammad Safdar, the Islamabad High Court on Wednesday suspended their jail sentences handed by an accountability court in Avenfield corruption case.
The High Court was hearing the petitions filed by Sharifs and Safdar against the July 6 verdict by the accountability court.
On July 6, the accountability court had found Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam guilty in the Avenfield properties corruption case filed by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and handed them 10 years and 7 years jail term, respectively.
In its verdict, accountability court said that Maryam "aided, assisted, abetted, attempted and acted in conspiracy with her father". "The trust deeds produced by the accused Maryam Nawaz were also found bogus," the judgment read.
Nawaz's son-in-law Safdar was given 1-year imprisonment for not cooperating with the NAB, and aiding and abeting Nawaz and Maryam.
Opposing the suspension of the jail term of Sharifs, NAB special prosecutor Mohammad Akram Qureshi argued that “after the fixation of appeals against the conviction of the Sharif family in the Avenfield reference, the IHC could not have entertained petitions seeking suspension of sentence,” the Dawn reported.
Qureshi further added that Maryam had prepared a forged declaration of trust in a bid to protect her father and the "law of evidence empowers the court to presume facts in certain situations.”
On this, High Court judge Justice Athar Minallah said, "The NAB, after conducting thorough investigation, couldn't bring any evidence of Nawaz Sharif's ownership of the Avenfield apartments, but you want us to admit his ownership on mere presumption."
After the final argument by Qureshi, the High Court reserved its verdict and ruled that the sentences of Sharifs and Safdar will remain suspended until the final judgment is announced.
The ousted prime minister and his daughter will be freed from jail after completion of formalities. However, it was not clear whether they will be released today. The court has also ordered them to pay Rs (Pakistani) 0.5 million as surety bonds.