Tuesday Jul 03 2018

Court to announce verdict in Avenfield case on July 6


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

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.

The accountability court resumed hearing the case on Tuesday, where Maryam Nawaz and Captain (retd) Safdar's counsel presented his final arguments.

Judge Mohammad Bashir, during the hearing on June 29, had directed Maryam's counsel Amjad Pervez to conclude his final arguments on July 2 in any case.

However, the hearing on July 2 (yesterday) was adjourned until today after Pervez failed to conclude his arguments.

The accountability court has heard the case for nine and a half months and reserved the verdict against Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Captain (retd) Safdar.

Nawaz's sons, Hasan and Hussain, have already been declared absconders in the case.

Nawaz and other accused were asked 127 questions in the case, while no witness appeared before the court on behalf of the defence.

Authorities also recorded statements of two witnesses through a video-link from London. The court conducted 107 hearings of the case over the past nine and a half months.

Nawaz and Maryam attended 78 hearings, whereas defence counsels cross-examined Wajid Zia, head of Panama case joint investigation team (JIT), for around two weeks.

On the whole, 18 witnesses recorded their statements in the case.

Last week, Nawaz's counsel, Khawaja Haris, had also concluded his final arguments in the case.

The former premier and his daughter remain in London on account of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz's ailment. On Monday, the court had granted them two-day exemption from proceedings.

However, the accountability court reserved its verdict in the case after today's hearing.

The references

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.