Avenfield case: Nawaz, Maryam given two-day exemption

ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam were given on Monday a two-day exemption from appearing in the accountability court hearing the Avenfield properties reference against them.

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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.

As the hearing went under way, the defence counsel for Nawaz’s daughter Maryam and son-in-law Capt (Retd) Safdar, Amjad Pervez, resumed presenting final arguments in the case.

During his arguments, the counsel objected to the joint investigation team (JIT)’s methods to build its case against the Sharif family last year.

Moreover, the counsel also submitted Nawaz and Maryam’s seven-day exemption plea after submitting an updated medical report of Nawaz’s wife detailing reasons for the former premier’s delay in returning to the country.

Nawaz and Maryam are in London tending to Begum Kulsoom Nawaz.

Objecting to the request, NAB Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi claimed Begum Kulsoom is much better now and thus there is no need for the two accused to be in London.

After reserving its verdict, the court only approved a two-day exemption plea.

The court also summoned Federal Investigation Agency Additional Director Wajid Zia, who headed the Panama case JIT, tomorrow morning for the Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference.

Zia will be cross-examined by Nawaz’s counsel Khawaja Haris in the reference, who had earlier cross-examined him in the Avenfield case.

Previously, Nawaz’s counsel concluded his final arguments in the Avenfield case.

The court also ruled that in the second half of tomorrow’s hearing, Maryam’s counsel will continue his final arguments.

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.

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