ISLAMABAD: The accountability court hearing corruption references against former premier Nawaz Sharif and his family is set to begin proceedings shortly.
Maryam Nawaz, the former prime minister’s daughter, is en route to the court after landing at Islamabad airport in a special plane from Lahore while her husband, MNA Capt (retd) Safdar, has already reached the court.
However, the former premier will be skipping today’s hearing as well as he is in Saudi Arabia.
The first two witnesses of the National Accountability Bureau — one from Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and the other from Federal Board of Revenue — are expected to record their statements today.
Around 400 police and paramilitary personnel have been stationed in and around the judicial complex for today’s hearing.
Nawaz’s political aide, Senator Asif Kirmani, and former information minister Senator Pervaiz Rasheed are present inside the court along with lawyers, members of the media, NAB officials and other government officials.
Reports had claimed earlier that Nawaz would arrive in Pakistan for the hearing after leaving London for Saudi Arabia earlier this week.
The cases have been filed by NAB in light of the Supreme Court’s order in the Panama Papers case.
At the last hearing on October 19, Nawaz, in his absence, was indicted in the Avenfield properties case alongside Maryam and Safdar.
Nawaz has also been indicted in the two other references against him.
As Nawaz was in London, he was represented by his legal representative Zafir Khan who heard the charges and pleaded not guilty.
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.
Court approves Maryam, Safdar’s bail; separates cases of Nawaz’s sons
Maryam and Safdar are only nominated in the London properties reference. At an earlier 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’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.