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Accountability court rejected objections raised by Nawaz Sharif

31 January, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: The accountability court on Tuesday rejected the objections raised by ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif over a supplementary reference filed against him by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in Avenfield properties case being heard against him. During the hearing conducted by judge Muhammad Bashir, Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain (r) Safdar were present in the court.

When the hearing commenced, Khawaja Haris, senior counsel for Nawaz Sharif, raised objections over filing of a supplementary reference by NAB in the Avenfield case, arguing that there was nothing new in the supplementary reference and instead carried malafide intentions.

He contended that since the supplementary reference had nothing new in it, hence it should not be entertained. He said NAB did not find any new information through mutual legal assistance, thus it should have pointed out what was new in the supplementary reference. He contended that only the previous allegations were repeated in the supplementary reference.

The NAB prosecutor, however, argued that the supplementary reference had new evidence and it was filed in accordance with the Supreme Court’s July 28, 2017, orders in the Panama Papers case. He stated that investigation was still underway against Nawaz Sharif and his family members and it will continue until the court announces its verdict. He said if any new evidence emerges during the NAB’s ongoing investigation, the court will be requested to make it part of the case record.

After hearing both the sides, the court reserved its verdict and later rejected the objections raised by Nawaz Sharif’s counsel and accepted the supplementary reference that would be made part of the record of Avenfield case. The court observed that the supplementary reference would be considered to be an additional evidence.

The court issued notices to five more prosecution witnesses to appear before it on the next hearing and record their statements. The NAB prosecutor requested the court to allow the UK-based witnesses to record their statements via video link, however the court did not rule over the request and adjourned the hearing till February 2.

In the hearing of Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference, Afaq Ahmad, an official of the Foreign Office, recorded his statement which was later cross-examined by Khawaja Haris.

During the hearing, Amjad Pervez, counsel for Maryam and Safdar, also raised objections over the supplementary reference, arguing that a completely different story was narrated in the supplementary reference. He said the newly filed reference was not a supplementary reference, but a different reference in the eyes of the law.

He said at first, it was stated that the Avenfield property was being owned by the members of Nawaz Sharif family, whereas now the supplementary reference focused only on Nawaz Sharif. He stated that the supplementary reference did not say anything about Maryam Nawaz being the beneficial owner of the Avenfield properties.

The Islamabad district administration and police had made strict security arrangements in and around the accountability court ahead of the appearance of Nawaz Sharif and his family members.

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