NAB court adjourns Avenfield reference hearing against Sharif family

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LHC Judge recuses from hearing Sharif's plea against Avenfield verdict

ISLAMABAD: Accountability Court Islamabad has adjourned the hearing of Avenfield reference against former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members till Monday.
Judge Muhammad Bashir is hearing the case.
Amjad Parvez, counsel of Maryam Nawaz, will continue his arguments on Monday.
Maryam Nawaz and her husband Capt (retd) Safdar’s lawyer Amjad Pervez resumed his final arguments in the Avenfield reference.
Nawaz and his family are facing three corruption cases in the accountability court after the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) filed references against them in light of the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Panama Papers case last year.
As the hearing went under way, the defence counsel presented prosecution witness Mazhar Raza Bangash’s letter, questioning its authenticity.
“Bangash said he presented the record in a sealed envelope, however, NAB’s witness Zawar Manzoor has said that the envelope was not sealed,” Pervez said.
He argued that the documents submitted by Bangash were photocopies and thus could not be made part of the court’s record as per Pakistan’s Qanun-e-Shahadat Order, 1984 (Law of Evidence).
Pervez contended that it was to be seen if the verdict of Queen’s bench was admissible evidence, adding that the summary of even that decision was not related to indictment.
The defence lawyer also objected to the absence of Shezi Naqvi — who had submitted an affidavit in the case. He further said that Rehman Malik’s report was not official and even the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had not accepted it.
Nawaz is neither the owner of the London flats and nor occupied them since 1993, Pervez said. He further added that the Sharif family may have been linked to the property at some point but Nawaz was never associated with the London flats.
The court then summoned Federal Investigation Agency Additional Director Wajid Zia, who headed the Panama case joint investigation team (JIT), on July 3 for the Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference.
The hearing was later adjourned till July 2.
The accountability court had on Thursday approved a one-day exemption request of Nawaz Sharif and his daughter — who are in London to tend to ailing Begum Kulsoom Nawaz. Pervez had then submitted an old medical report of Begum Kulsoom in the court and filed a seven-day exemption request for the defendants.
Pervez had informed the court that Begum Kulsoom’s new medical report will be received by June 29 and accordingly submitted to the court.
The trial against the Sharif family had commenced on September 14, 2017.
The corruption references, filed against the Sharifs, pertain to the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment, offshore companies including Flagship Investment Limited, and Avenfield properties of London.
Nawaz and his sons, Hussain and Hasan, are accused in all three references whereas his daughter Maryam and son-in-law Safdar are accused in the Avenfield reference only.
The two brothers, based abroad, have been absconding since the proceedings began last year and were declared proclaimed offenders by the court.
The court originally had a deadline of six months which ended in mid-March but was extended for two months after the judge requested the apex court.
Later, the deadline was extended twice more, with the new date falling somewhere around July 10 now.

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