Pakistan’s ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members appeared before an anti-graft court in Islamabad on Wednesday as trial resumed into the corruption cases filed against them in the high-profile Panama Papers scandal.
Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired captain Muhammad Safdar arrived at the court amidst tight security. The family was welcomed by a number of senior leaders of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) at the court.
Three cases have been registered by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against Sharif and his family in the Accountability Court Islamabad.
Sharif has been indicted in all three cases while his daughter Maryam and her husband Safdar, co-accused with Sharif in only one case, were also indicted last month. The three cases against the Sharifs are related to the Flagship Investment Ltd, the Avenfield (London) properties and Jeddah-based Al-Azizia Company and Hill Metal Establishment.
The court had last week accepted 67-year-old Sharif’s application for exemption from court hearings till November 27. However, Sharif appeared before the court this morning because of a change in his plans.
The accountability court on November 8 rejected a plea by Sharif to club all three cases together.
Last week, Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar also dismissed Sharif’s in-chamber appeal to merge three cases filed by the NAB in the Panama Papers scandal.
Sharif’s sons Hassan and Hussian are also co-accused in all three cases but have so far failed to appear in the court despite repeated summons, prompting the court to separate their case and initiate a process to declare them proclaimed offenders.
A five-member bench of the Supreme Court on July 28 had disqualified Sharif over his undeclared income. The apex court also directed the NAB to file cases against him, and his children in the accountability court and directed the trial court to decide the cases within six months.
The NAB had filed three cases on September 8 against Sharif and his family, and another case against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.
The political future of Sharif, who leads the country’s most powerful political family and the PML-N party, has been hanging in balance since his disqualification. If convicted, Sharif could be jailed.
(With inputs from agencies)