IHC to take up Sharif family’s appeals against Avenfield verdict on Tuesday

Nawaz, Maryam and Safdar filed appeals asking for accountability court's verdict to be declared void

By
Awais Yousafzai

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court will hear on Tuesday the appeals filed by the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar challenging the Avenfield verdict against them.

On July 6, an accountability court had sentenced Nawaz to a total of 11 years in prison and slapped a £8 million fine (Rs1.3 billion) in the corruption reference while his daughter Maryam was sentenced to eight years with a £2 million fine (Rs335 million). Additionally, Nawaz's son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar was given a one-year sentence without any fine.

Earlier on Monday, the legal counsels of the Sharif family—who are currently serving their respective sentences at Adiala jail—had filed three different appeals on behalf of their clients.

Nawaz’s counsel Khawaja Haris filed an appeal challenging the verdict against his client and requesting its suspension till IHC’s adjudication in the case. Similarly, Amjad Pervaiz filed the appeals on behalf of Maryam and Safdar.

An additional appeal was also filed requesting the court to transfer the Al-Azizia and Flagship Investment references against Nawaz from the court of Accountability Judge-I Mohammad Bashir to another accountability court.

Appeals highlight legal flaws in Avenfield verdict

The appeals — that highlights the legal flaws in the Avenfield judgement — ask for the accountability court's verdict to be declared null and void and the three convicts to be released on bail.

It states that the Panamagate Joint Investigation Team (JIT) head and prosecution's star witness Wajid Zia himself accepted that a response to the mutual legal assistance (MLA) request was not received. 

It further said that levelling allegations without receiving a response to the MLA was mala fide.

Legal counsels of the convicts have contended that the prosecution’s witness Robert Radley not only stated that Calibri font was available for testing purposes, he admitted to having downloaded and used the Calibri font which was available as pre-release of Windows Vista known as BETA-1 since the year 2005 while simultaneously admitting that he was neither a computer expert nor an IT expert or a computer geek. 

'Court's verdict doesn't comply with law'

Speaking to the media in the federal capital today, Maryam's legal counsel Amjad Pervaiz stated that the accountability court's verdict in the Avenfield reference was not in compliance with the law. 

"The accountability court's verdict is in contradiction with the law and declaring it void would serve justice," Pervaiz told media persons. 

"Our case is very strong and on merit. We are right and we hope to get some relief," he said.

Nawaz and Maryam arrived in Pakistan on Friday evening. They were arrested upon their arrival in Lahore and shifted to Adiala Jail in separate convoys. Safdar was arrested earlier on July 9.

Maryam's appeal was drafted on Saturday, however, her legal counsels who were in Adiala Jail to get the power of attorney (Vakalatnama) signed by their client were unable to file the petition before the court hours ended, sources had informed Geo News said. Court hours last till 1pm during summer vacations.

The trial

The trial against the Sharif family commenced on September 14, 2017.

On July 6, after four extensions in the original six-month deadline to conclude all three cases, the court announced its verdict in the Avenfield reference.

Nawaz and his sons, Hussain and Hasan, are accused in all three references whereas Maryam and Safdar were 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.

On July 10, the Supreme Court granted another six-week extension for Accountability Court-I Judge Mohammad Bashir to conclude the remaining corruption references against Nawaz and former finance minister Ishaq Dar.