Avenfield, Al-Azizia cases: Nawaz declared absconder, surety money forfeited

Guarantors summoned on December 9

The Islamabad High Court has declared former prime minister Nawaz Sharif an absconder in the Avenfield and Al-Azizia Steel Mills cases.

The money he paid as surety for his bail will be forfeited now. His guarantors have also been issued notices for December 9.

Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani heard the case on Wednesday and announced the verdict after announcing the move earlier in the day.

The NAB prosecutor has also submitted a petition to have Nawaz’s appeals against his sentences thrown out.

During the proceedings to declare Nawaz an absconder, the Foreign Office and FIA officers handling the case recorded their statements.

The court said on Wednesday the PML-N founder, who is currently in London, has been given enough time and yet no one has been appearing in court on his behalf.

Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani remarked that the court also must review the conduct of former judge Arshad Malik who announced the Al-Azizia verdict against Nawaz. He said the steps taken by the Lahore High Court will not affect the proceedings of this court. Malik had submitted his affidavit in court and it will be looked into.

The hearing has been adjourned till December 9.

Earlier, Dawn and Jang newspapers posted the summons of Nawaz in the Al-Azizia and Avenfield references. The notice said Nawaz is absconding and trying to hide from the legal proceedings.

Nawaz had been sentenced to seven and 10 years in prison in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Avenfield flats references respectively. The former premier’s sentence in the Al-Azizia reference was suspended. He has filed an appeal seeking its annulment.

NAB has filed appeals to increase his sentence to 14 years in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills case. It seeks an end to the suspension of Nawaz’s sentence in the Avenfield case too.

In October 2019, the IHC had granted Nawaz bail on humanitarian grounds. The government allowed him to leave the country in November 2019 for medical treatment in London after his health deteriorated. He hasn’t returned since.

His bail expired in February. Last month, the IHC issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Nawaz. But the warrants were not received by the ex-premier.

Illegal plots case

On November 10, an accountability court in Lahore declared Nawaz a proclaimed offender in an illegal allotment case. The court summoned complete records of the assets owned by Nawaz and his family members.

On October 10, proclamation notices were posted outside Nawaz’s Jati Umra residence and court office over Nawaz’s continuous absence from the trial.

Geo TV owner Mir Shakilur Rehman has been named in the case too. NAB has claimed that Rehman illegally acquired 54 plots in Lahore's Johar Town in 1986 in connivance with Nawaz, the then Punjab chief minister.

The bureau claimed that acquiring plots on exemption in a single block was a violation of the Exemption Policy 1986.

Toshakhana reference

On September 9, former president Asif Ali Zardari was indicted in the Toshakhana reference, while Nawaz was declared a proclaimed offender.

NAB has accused former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani of illegally allotting cars to Nawaz and Zardari.

The accountability watchdog stated that Zardari and Nawaz obtained cars from the Toshakhana by paying only 15% of the price of the luxury vehicles.

It also alleged that Gillani had facilitated the allotment of the vehicles by illegally relaxing the rules.

Nawaz Sharif

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