Court adjourns Avenfield case hearing till tomorrow

Islamabad (HRNW): An accountability court adjourned till tomorrow the hearing of Avenfield case against former premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired Captain Safdar. Judge Muhammad Bashir presided over the trial proceedings in the federal capital. Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law were in attendance in the court. Lead counsel of the Sharif family, Khawaja Haris, resumed cross-examination of Panama Papers JIT head Wajid Zia. At the outset, NAB prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar objected that the defence counsel has been cross-examining the witness about the admitted facts of the case for three days. The accused person had already accepted documents about Capital FZE chairmanship, and an Iqama, whereas he didn’t admit to having received a salary from the company, he said.

The prosecutor said the counsel couldn’t pose questions about such admitted facts, and accused him of trying to prolong the trial proceedings. Upon this, Haris asked why did the NAB incorporated the documents about Capital FZE in the case. He said he will not ask questions about the documents, if these are not made part of the proceedings. Zia testified that Sharif informed the JIT that he never ran the affairs of any company, nor had he been beneficiary of Nelson and Nescol or any other company, nor was he involved in any transaction whatsoever. He further quoted the former premier as saying that Mian Sharif would shoulder the expenses of his sons – Hussain and Hassan and that it was his decision to divide the family’s holdings among family memebers.

Haris asked Zia if he shared the JIT report with Quist Services, a law firm whose services the JIT had hire in connection with probe into the Sharif family’s wealth. Upon this Zia said, only witnesses statement were shared with it. The cross-examination on Monday could not be completed due to the exchange of heated arguments between the prosecution and the defense lawyers. The Avenfield Properties reference says that Sharif, his brood and his son-in-law, retired Captain Mohammad Safdar, had purchased four flats in Park Lane, UK, without legitimate financial means. PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif was present in the court along with his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain (retd) Safdar. As soon as Sharifs’ lawyer Khawaja Harris started cross-examining Wajid Zia, the NAB Deputy Prosecutor General, Sardar Muzaffar Abbas objected and said the defence lawyer should refrain from asking unnecessary questions. “It is the 11th day but their cross-examination is not ending. If the defence has no more questions, then they should end the cross-examination,” he said.

As per the testimony of the key prosecution witness Wajid Zia, the trading licence of Capital FZE — the firm owned by the son of Mr Sharif — was the key document that led the JIT to get other relevant documents including the salary details of Nawaz Sharif. The Capital FZE is the company whose Iqama led to Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification. During the hearing yesterday, Wajid Zia said a few source documents were attached and a few were not. The JIT had obtained the source documents during investigation, he said. During the cross-examination, Mr Zia told the court that Guernica 37 Interna­tional Chambers provided them the trading licence as source document that provided a lead to the JIT to find other documents of the company where the former prime minister had worked. The former premier was disqualified by the Supreme Court on July 28, 2017 for not declaring stashing wealth beyond known sources of income.

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