–IHC says deposed premier failed to appear despite repeated summons in Al-Azizia Mills and Avenfield cases
ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday declared deposed prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supreme leader Nawaz Sharif proclaimed offender in Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Avenfield House cases after he failed to show up despite repeated reminders.
Justice Aamer Farooq also announced to pass a short order regarding the proclamation of the convicted and in addition to issuing show-cause notices to his brother and PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif who signed the surety deed, assuring his brother’s timely return.
In July 2018, an accountability court handed Sharif 10 years as jail time in the Avenfield House case, related to the purchase of upscale apartments in London, and one year for not cooperating with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) during the probe.
Later in December, another accountability court handed him seven years and a $25 million penalty in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference wherein he was unable to prove the source of income that had led to his ownership of a steel mill in Saudi Arabia.
After spending a year in prison, Sharif, 71, after securing a conditional bail in November 2019, travelled to London on the pretext of medical treatment and has since been residing there. His party insists that despite being summoned by the courts, who declared him a proclaimed offender earlier in separate corruption probes, the former premier will only return after the completion of his medical treatment.
During Wednesday’s proceedings, the court recorded the statements of three witnesses and completed proceedings regarding the proclamation process.
Earlier in September, a high court bench issued his non-bailable arrest warrants after he failed to appear before the bench for hearing of his appeals against his conviction in Al-Azizia and Avenfield cases.
Later, the bench started the process of declaring him an absconder and ordered authorities to publish the summons in British publications, summoning Nawaz on November 24.
The IHC at the time said if Sharif did not appear in the court within 30 days after publication of the advertisement, he would be declared an absconder. It had also ordered the authorities concerned to paste the notice outside his London and Lahore residences.
Nawaz, his daughter and PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz and her husband Captain (r) Safdar Awan were released from Adiala jail on September 19, 2018, after an IHC judgement suspended their respective sentences in the Avenfield reference.