Sunday April 14, 2024

Avenfield reference : JIT head, IO statements contradict each other

By Faisal Kamal Pasha
June 27, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Forwarding final arguments in the Avenfield Apartments corruption reference in the accountability court (AC), former prime minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif’s legal counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmad said the statements of JIT head Wajid Zia and investigating officer (IO) contradicted each other.

Haris said the report of forensic expert Robert William Radley on the trust deeds was a pack of lies and could not be relied upon. “He lied at every step and everything related to him is suspicious and its credibility is questionable given the fact that he is such a forensic expert who examined scanned photocopies of a document instead of original ones, Haris said in a sarcastic tone.

About the National Accountability Bureau (NAB)’s Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi’s meeting with Radley prior to recording of his statement and cross-examination, Haris said the NAB officials were only allowed being there as observer and they were in no manner allowed to interact with the witness.

Radley had admitted in his testimony that he’d shared all his notes regarding Calibri font with the NAB officials believing that they would be recording his statement and later he came to know that they had no connection whatsoever.

The NAB officials were allowed to be in London at the Pakistan High Commission just to observe the recording of Radley’s testimony. They were not allowed to guide the witness, Haris also said. When Radley recorded his statement, he denied everything while in the cross-examination he accepted and there were many contradictions in his statements.

Earlier, he had opined that Nielsen & Nescoll and Coomber group trust deeds submitted by Maryam Nawaz were ‘fabricated’ saying that these were scripted in Calibri font that was not commercially available before January 31, 2007. In thecross examination though, he admitted that the font was available in April 2005 and he also downloaded and used it.

Haris said the fact remains that ‘Calibri’ font was available and it could be used in 2005. Reading from the statement of Radley, Haris said when there was admission that the font was in used in 2005 then every other thing becomes irrelevant.

Haris said Radley’s report could not be relied upon in any manner whatsoever for mere statement that Calibri font was not available before January 31, 2007 which he later on denied and said that it was also available in 2005.

Referring to Radley’s statement, Haris said he had accepted that he had downloaded the font despite the fact that he was neither an IT expert nor a computer geek. “If he could have used the font prior 2007, why not the other persons?” he asked.

He argued that Radley’s report could not form the basis to declare the trust deed as fabricated. He said Radley was not a professionally sound witness and in his statement there were lies everywhere.

“First, he said that he didn’t go through the contents of documents but only used his magnifying instruments for that purpose. Later during cross-examination he admitted that he had gone through the trust deeds but didn’t know what were those meant for. How could he differentiate words, sentences and paragraphs without going through the contents and how he may be knowing that some pages are identical and some others are different as he said in the statement,” Haris raised questions.

Further, he said Radley was working with the joint investigation team (JIT) without any formal contract and he had submitted before the court that in response to the JIT contact he had sent them his terms and conditions and the JIT then sent him documents for forensic examination.

Haris argued that in the Supreme Court when the trust deeds were submitted, some pages were mistakenly attached to each other but this mistake was soon realized. He said Radley was not hired to point out this mistake and the JIT members could themselves see that some pages from one trust deed were attached to another trust deed.

Radley’s report could not be termed sound just for the reason that the pages were not attached in order. About the letters from Financial Investigation Agency (FIA) of the British Virgin Island (BVI) according to which Maryam Nawaz was the beneficial owner of Avenfield properties, Haris said these letters were neither primary nor secondary evidence in the case and in fact these were tertiary evidence.

In support of his contentions, he cited various judgments of the superior judiciary. The prosecution could produce some documents but these could not be treated as evidence unless author to these documents and the person who signed and executed appeared before the court and recorded his testimony and was also cross-examined then.

Haris said all the Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) applications should have been routed through the Foreign Office for authenticity as it was the proper channel for state to state correspondence.

About DG NAB Operations Zahir Shah’s statement before the court, Haris said initially he said he did not went through the documents but later he admitted that he had not seen names of Nawaz Sharif, Maryam, Hassan and Hussain in the registry of title, council tax documents, water bills, custom tax etc. He would continue with his arguments today (Wednesday).