ISLAMABAD: Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif filed petitions on Monday in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to revive appeals against his conviction in the Avenfield and Al-Azizia references.
On October 19, the IHC had granted protective bail to the PML-N supremo in both cases until October 24 (Tuesday).
Upon his recent return to the country, he first signed applications at the Islamabad International Airport to restore pending appeals against his convictions in the Avenfield Apartments and Al-Azizia references.
In July 2018, Nawaz was sentenced to 10 years in jail in the Avenfield properties corruption reference for possessing assets beyond his known income and an additional one-year sentence for not cooperating with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), to be served concurrently.
His daughter, PML-N Chief Organiser Maryam Nawaz, had also been sentenced to seven years in jail in the case but was acquitted in September 2022, along with her husband, retired Captain Safdar.
The Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference relates to the case in which Nawaz was sentenced to seven years in jail on December 24, 2018. He was also fined Rs1.5 billion and US$25 million in this case.
Nawaz was released from jail in March 2019 and left for London in November 2019 after receiving permission from the Lahore High Court (LHC). The IHC declared him a proclaimed offender in both cases in December 2020.
The petitions were filed by former law minister Azam Tarar and advocate Amjad Parvez today.
The petitions requested that the appeals against Nawaz’s sentence be reinstated with the previous court proceedings and be decided on merit according to the law.
The plea stated that the IHC had dismissed Nawaz’s appeals for non-compliance in June 2021 due to his extended stay in London.
It argued that Nawaz had not taken advantage of the bail granted to him in all the cases. The plea also pointed out that the ousted premier had gone abroad with the permission of the relevant court.
The plea further stated that Nawaz’s absence from the court was not deliberate or malicious, emphasizing that he did not appear in court on medical grounds, as his treatment was delayed due to the coronavirus epidemic.
It claimed that Nawaz had not fully recovered from the illness but had decided to return after witnessing the deteriorating economic conditions of the country and the challenges faced on various fronts.
The petition also mentioned that the presumption of deliberate non-appearance was inconsistent with Nawaz’s previous track record, which was “exemplary” in relation to court appearances.
The petition noted that Nawaz had appeared before the joint investigation team even while he was the prime minister and had returned to face the trial.
The petitions are expected to be heard tomorrow by an IHC division bench.