The accountability court on Friday announced the verdict in the Avenfield properties corruption reference filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), handing ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif 10 years as jail time for owning assets beyond known income and 1 year for not cooperating with NAB. The sentences will run concurrently which means the former prime minister will serve 10 years in jail.
His daughter Maryam was given 7 years for abetment after she was found "instrumental in concealment of the properties of her father" and 1 year for non-cooperation with the bureau. These sentences will also run concurrently; she will serve 7 years in total.
According to the verdict, she "aided, assisted, abetted, attempted and acted in conspiracy with her father". "The trust deeds produced by the accused Maryam Nawaz were also found bogus," read the judgement.
Nawaz's son-in-law retired Captain Safdar has been given 1 year jail time — for not cooperating with NAB, and aiding and abeting Nawaz and Maryam.
The non-cooperation punishment for all three has been given under Serial 2 of the schedule of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999: "Refuses to answer questions, or to provide information to any member of the NAB or any other agency when required to do so."
Nawaz was convicted under NAO 1999 9(a)(v): "A holder of a public office, or any other person, is said to commit or to have committed the offence of corruption and corrupt practices [...] if he or any of his dependents or benamidar owns, possesses, or has acquired right or title in any assets or holds irrevocable power of attorney in respect of any assets or pecuniary resources disproportionate to his known sources of income, which he cannot reasonably account for or maintains a standard of living beyond that which is commensurate with his sources of income."
The abetment conviction for Maryam and Safdar falls under NAO 1999 9(a)(v)(xii), which states: "Is said to commit or to have committed the offence of corruption and corrupt practices [...] if he aids, assists, abets, attempts or acts in conspiracy with a person or a holder of public office accused of an offence."
As the 9-month-long trial concluded, Nawaz was handed a fine of £8 million and Maryam £2 million. The money will go into the state treasury.
According to AFP, prosecution lawyer Sardar Muzaffar Abbas said that the court had ordered the properties, in London's exclusive Mayfair, be confiscated by the federal government.
The sons, Hasan and Hussain Nawaz, also accused in the case, are "absconding therefore, they are declared as proclaimed offenders. Non bailable perpetual warrants of arrest shall be issued against them".
Maryam and Capt Safdar can no longer contest the upcoming general elections. "The [...] accused shall be disqualified to contest election or to hold public office for a period of 10 years to be reckoned from the date he [sic] is released after serving the sentence," ruled the court.
They, however, have the right to appeal against the verdict.
NAB had filed the reference regarding the high-end properties in London, along with two others, on the Supreme Court's directives in the landmark Panamagate verdict last year which deseated Nawaz as the prime minister.
Four members of the Sharif family ─ Nawaz, Maryam, Hassan and Hussain ─ are in London, while Captain Safdar is in Pakistan, but was not present in court.
Soon after the verdict, Maryam took to Twitter to share this message: "This is a very small punishment for firmly standing in front of unseen forces. The morale to fight against oppression has increased today."
NAB will now wait for a certain time period for all three convicts to surrender. If they fail to do so, NAB will initiate the procedure to bring Maryam and Nawaz back, and arrest Safdar.