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IHC bench hears appeal against Avenfield verdict

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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday heard petitions challenging the Sharif family’s conviction in the Avenfield properties reference.
A bench comprising of Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Mian Gull was hearing the petitions.
Accountability court judge Mohammad Bashir had on July 6 convicted Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired Captain Mohammad Safdar in the Avenfield properties reference and sentenced them to 10 years, seven years and one year, respectively, in prison.
On July 16, the Sharifs and Captain Safdar had filed appeals for the Avenfield verdict to be overturned. Their lawyers had also filed petitions that argued that until the IHC adjudicates on the appeals against the accountability court’s decision, the convicts should be released on bail.
In the appeals, counsel Khawaja Haris had argued that the prosecution must establish its case beyond a shadow of a doubt in order to shift the onus of proof on the accused, but in the Avenfield properties reference the prosecution failed to establish such a case.
As the bench began hearing the case, Nawaz’s brother and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shehbaz Sharif was present in the courtroom.
Prosecutor of the National Accountability Bureau Akram Qureshi contended that it would be biased to hear the petitions to suspend the sentence. Qureshi requested the court to grant him the permission to submit a written response to the defence lawyer’s petition.
Justice Minallah noted that the court could not examine all the proofs and assess the merit thereof.

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