Jailed Sharif appears in Pak court in remaining 2 graft cases

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Islamabad: Pakistan’s jailed former prime minister today appeared before an accountability court hearing two graft cases against him and his family.

The 68-year-old PML-N leader appeared before the Islamabad-based court for hearing in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and the Hill Metal Establishment cases.

The accountability court Judge Arshad Malik adjourned the hearing on August 13 and summoned the investigation officer of the cases for today.

Sharif, along with his daughter Maryam, 44 and his son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar, 54, are already serving jail terms of 10-years, seven years and one year respectively in the Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi, after an accountability court convicted them on July 6 over the family’s ownership of four luxury flats in London.

Strict security measures were in place to avoid any disturbance due to presence of dozens of workers and leaders of Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party.

Sharif was brought to the court in a black vehicle instead of a traditional armoured vehicle to dodge the PML-N workers who surrounded the armoured vehicle and chanted slogans.

TV footage showed that some charged supporters also climbed up on the roof of the vehicle. But they soon got down after they were informed that Sharif had already been taken to the court from a different gate by using a different car.

Sharif’s younger brother and president of PML-N, Shehbaz Sharif was also present and met Sharif. He later told media that former premier was in high spirits.

“He has congratulated the entire nation on the Independence Day and we hope that he will soon out of the jail,” he said.

The pending corruption cases against Sharif and his two sons were transferred by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on August 7 on application of Sharif to another accountability court headed by judge Malik.

Three corruption cases were filed against Sharif and family last year following a decision by Supreme Court on July 28 of the same year.

The formal trial of the Sharif family started on September 14 and was to be completed in six months but later the deadline was extended at least thrice.

Apart from Sharif, his two sons -Hassan and Hussian – are also co-accused on all three corruption cases.

The court has already declared the two sons as absconders due to their persistent failure to appear before the court. They have been blacklisted by the authorities, barring them from travelling on their Pakistani passports.

The ownership of the four London flats by the Sharif family surfaced in the Panama Papers in April 2016, indicating that the posh properties were managed through offshore companies owned by Sharif’s children.

The Panama Papers cases were launched on September 8, 2016 following the Supreme Court verdict of July 28 that disqualified Sharif as prime minister and ordered the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to probe cases against him.