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Friday Jul 06 2018

PTI's Fawad Chaudhry 'certain of just decision' in Avenfield case


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry said on Friday he was confident that a just decision will be made in the Avenfield properties corruption reference against the Sharif family. 

An accountability court will announce the verdict shortly, which was reserved earlier on July 3. 

A plea by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam to delay the verdict in the for seven days was dismissed by the accountability court earlier today.

In a statement to the media ahead of the verdict, Chaudhry said his party's interest was to see Nawaz punished and to bring back to Pakistan the funds channeled abroad by the accused. 

"The Sharif family got a chance to defend itself," said the PTI leader. 

"I am confident that the verdict on the case will be just." 

"It will be important to see how Rs30 billion will be brought back to Pakistan," the PTI spokesperson said, referring to the alleged money laundering undertaken by the Sharif family. 

Furthermore, Chaudhry said that the court's verdict on the case will have a positive impact on local politics.   

"The accountability process of powerful people in Pakistan has begun," he stated further.  

The trial

After the Supreme Court disqualified Nawaz in the Panama Papers case on July 28, 2017, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), in light of the verdict, filed three corruption references against the Sharif family in the accountability court.

The trial against the Sharif family commenced on September 14, 2017, under the supervision of Supreme Court Justice Ijazul Ahsan, who was appointed a monitoring judge in the Panama case verdict.

Nawaz, Maryam entering the court premises earlier this year. Photo: File

During the course of the trial, spread over 107 hearings, a total of 18 prosecution witnesses recorded their statements, including the Panama case joint investigation team (JIT) head, Federal Investigation Agency's Wajid Zia.

It was the Zia-led JIT's report which the Supreme Court used last year as a basis for Nawaz's disqualification and further investigation of the Sharif family's assets.

After his statement was recorded, the defence counsels cross-examined Zia for around two weeks.

The prosecution also recorded statements of two witnesses through video-link from London — private solicitor Akhtar Raja and forensic expert Robert Radley — whose expertise was utilised by the JIT during its probe.

Nawaz and Maryam outside the court premises this year. Photo: File

Nawaz and the other accused were asked 127 questions during their cross-examination, while no witnesses appeared in their defence.

Nawaz and Maryam attended 78 hearings, skipping a few proceedings as they visited London in between to spend time with Begum Kulsoom Nawaz.

Safdar, however, attended nearly all the proceedings.

The apex court had directed the trial court to conclude the cases in six months. However, the court has only concluded proceedings of the Avenfield reference despite two deadline extensions — the latest one being July 10.

The other two corruption references — Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment and offshore companies including Flagship Investment Limited — have yet to conclude. 


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