Nawaz returns from London tonight, to appear in court tomorrow

 
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ISLAMABAD Oct 12 (TNS): Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif will be returning to the country later tonight and appear for his corruption hearing tomorrow, according to sources within the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.

Nawaz, his daughter Maryam, and son-in-law MNA Capt (retd) Safdar are expected to be indicted by the accountability court hearing corruption cases against them.

On Tuesday, Nawaz requested people to pray for his wife, Kulsoom, who was undergoing her first chemotherapy session in London.

Nawaz arrived in London on October 4 on the latest leg of his trip to tend to his wife, who was diagnosed with lymphoma (cancer of lymph nodes) by British doctors on August 22.

Sharif, who first went to London on August 30, returned to the country on September 25 to face the Supreme Court-directed corruption cases against him.

At the last hearing, on October 9, the accountability court approved the bail of Maryam and Safdar after they appeared in court.

Judge Mohammad Bashir also approved the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) plea to declare Nawaz’s sons, Hasan and Hussain, proclaimed offenders and separated their proceedings in the three references filed against them. Their non-bailable arrest warrants, issued at the last hearing on October 2, remain in effect.

The court also approved Nawaz’s counsel Khawaja Harris’s request to approve his client’s exemption from appearance for that date only.

The judge set October 13 (tomorrow) as the date on which Nawaz — regardless of his presence — Maryam and Safdar will be indicted.

The accountability court is hearing a total of three corruption cases against the Sharif family filed by NAB in light of the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Panama Papers case.

At the last hearing, the court also approved Maryam and Safdar’s bail in the Avenfiled properties case and ordered them to submit surety bonds worth Rs5 million each.

Safdar was also directed to take the court’s permission before leaving the country from now on. The judge also provided a copy of the reference — spread over 53 volumes — to Maryam and Safdar.

NAB officials also submitted in court a plea to declare Hasan and Hussain Nawaz proclaimed offenders as they failed to show up in court even today, despite issuance of non-bailable arrest warrants.

The NAB has in total filed three references against the Sharif family and one against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in the accountability court, in light of the Supreme Court’s orders in the Panama Papers case verdict of July 28.

The anti-graft body was given six weeks, from the date of the apex court’s order, to file the reference in an accountability court while the accountability court was granted six months to wrap up the proceedings.

The references against the Sharif family pertain to the Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metals Establishment, their London properties and over dozen offshore companies owned by the family.

NAB’s Rawalpindi branch prepared two references regarding the Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metals Establishment, and the nearly dozen companies owned by the Sharif family.

Its Lahore branch prepared a reference on the Sharif family’s Avenfield apartments in London and another against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for owning assets beyond his known sources of income.

If convicted, the accused may face up to 14 years imprisonment and lifelong disqualification from holding public office including the freezing of bank accounts and assets.