Pakistan's jailed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif appeared before an accountability court hearing corruption cases against him and his family, the first court appearance in the remaining two graft cases following his incarceration. Following the hearing, the accountability court Judge Arshad Malik adjourned the hearing and summoned the investigation officer of the cases on August 15. For the first time since his jailing, 68-year-old Sharif appeared before the Islamabad-based court for hearing in the two graft cases - the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and the Hill Metal Establishment case.
Sharif, along with his daughter Maryam, 44 and his son-in-law Capt (Retd) Muhammad Safdar 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. Sharif was brought to the court in an armoured vehicle and was taken back to the high-security jail after the hearing. Strict security measures were taken on the occasion and authorities even banned the entry of the media.
Meanwhile, gunshots were heard outside as Sharif appeared before the court. "A shot was fired by anti-riot force policeman," a police official said. "We are looking into the matter to know why the gun was loaded," he added. The pending corruption cases against Sharif and his two sons were transferred by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on August 7 on the 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.