Sunday April 14, 2024

Court reserves verdict in Avenfield Reference case

By Faisal Kamal Pasha
July 04, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The accountability court hearing the Avenfield Reference against the Sharif family on Tuesday reserved its verdict in the case, which will be announced on Friday, July 6.

Nawaz Sharif and his family are facing three corruption cases in the accountability court after the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) filed references against them in the light of the Supreme Court's verdict in the Panama Papers case last year. The accountability court resumed hearing in the case on Tuesday, where Maryam Nawaz and Captain (retd) Safdar's counsel Amjad Pervez presented his final arguments. Three among the five accused stood trial in this case, while two accused, Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz, have already been declared proclaimed offenders.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, Ameer Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Sirajul Haq and other politicians had filed petitions before the Supreme Court of Pakistan, that on July 28 disqualified Mian Nawaz Sharif from holding public office and also referred the case to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for filing of three corruption references against Nawaz and his children for assets beyond known sources of income. The hearing of two other corruption references including Al-Azizia Steel Mill and Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship corruption reference are also nearing completion.

In the Al-Azizia reference, counsel for Nawaz was cross-examining the joint investigation team (JIT) head Wajid Zia, following which the NAB investigation officer will record his statement and be cross-examined. In the Flagship case, Wajid Zia and the IO have to record their statements followed by cross-examination and final arguments. The two cases can take some time, while the accountability court is going to decide the Avenfield Reference case on July 6 prior to the July 9 deadline set by the apex court.

Previously, the AC had decided to simultaneously render judgments in the three corruption references but then it ordered that since the defence has produced no witnesses, the judgments will be rendered separately.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Amjad Pervez said the investigation was conducted with a pre-conceived mindset and malice is evident everywhere in the JIT report. He said documents pertaining to Financial Investigation Agency of the British Virgin Islands (FIA-BVI) are not certified and also the Mossack Fonseca’s letters of 2012 through which the prosecution has been trying to establish that Maryam Nawaz is the beneficial owner of the London properties. After Amjad Pervez concluded his final arguments, the accountability court Judge Muhammad Bashir reserved the judgment in the case.

Meanwhile, Khawaja Haris cross-examined Wajid Zia over his statement in Al-Azizia and Hill Metal Establishment Corruption references and asked him if the JIT verified the Arabic translations of the copies of professional licence and land rent agreement related to Gulf Steel Mills (GSM). Zia replied in the negative and said the JIT did not write any MLA in this regard and the two JIT members who travelled to Dubai also did not verify the said documents. Zia said the JIT also did not contact the translator Ahmed Badran of Atlis Legal Translations. Zia said the JIT also did not verify the professional licence from Dubai’s Municipality through an MLA.

Haris then posed a question why the translated documents of the land rent agreement of GSM are on a single page in volume III of the JIT report rather than a complete set. Zia replied that it is an inadvertent mistake. A NAB prosecutor Wasiq Malik objected that the defence counsel was asking the questions about documents that were not exhibited as evidence. He requested the AC judge to stop the defence counsel from asking questions about those documents. At this the AC judge expressed displeasure and said the prosecution had attached these documents and that could be debated.

Haris then asked Zia if any of the witness summoned by the JIT including Tariq Shafi, Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz had asked for a questionnaire in advance prior to appearing before the JIT. Zia said he needed to consult the record. The court then adjourned the case till today (Wednesday).