Avenfield case: Last witness to record statement against Nawaz, family today

Avenfield case: Last witness to record statement against Nawaz, family today

ISLAMABAD: The accountability court hearing corruption cases against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family resumed its proceedings today.

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.

Judge Mohammad Bashir will conduct proceedings of the Avenfield properties reference today where the last witness, a NAB official, will record his statement. 

The reference pertains to the London flats owned by the Sharif family. 

Nawaz, daughter Maryam and son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar were present in court when the hearing started but were later allowed to leave. 

As the hearing went under way, Nawaz's counsel requested the court that their defence will be adversely affected if the investigation officer's statement is recorded. 

He pleaded the court to first record Panama JIT head Wajid Zia's statement in the Flagship and Al Azizia references.

Opposing the plea, the prosecution argued that it wants to conclude the Avenfield case first and the defence should have submitted its request prior to Zia's cross-examination in the Avenfield reference. 

The hearing was then briefly adjourned. 

At the April 24 hearing, Maryam's counsel Amjad Pervez conducted the cross-examination of prosecution witness Zahir Shah.

Shah, NAB's DG Operations, was recently included as a witness by the prosecution after he obtained relevant material from the UK regarding the Avenfield properties. 

Later, the court recorded Shah's statement in the Flagship reference against Nawaz.

In the following hearing, on April 25, Nawaz's counsel Khawaja Haris concluded Shah's cross-examination in the Flagship Investment Ltd reference against the Sharif family.

The court had later adjourned the hearing till Monday (today) and ordered to record the statement of NAB investigation officer Imran Dogar in the Avenfield reference. 

The cases
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 Ltd, and Avenfield properties of London.

Nawaz and 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.