Pakistan

ISLAMABAD – The Accountability Court (AC), hearing the Avenfield reference against the Sharif family will announce the reserved verdict today.

Before announcing the verdict, Judge Mohammad Bashir will hear the request filed by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz seeking postponement of the verdict.

Sharifs files plea with NAB court to put off Avenfield case verdict

Ahead of the expected verdict, a heavy contingent comprising Islamabad police, Rangers, and others has been deployed around the judicial complex, while roads leading to the accountability court have been closed.

Moreover, the district administration has imposed Section 144 in the capital to discourage mass gatherings.

A larger number of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leaders and supporters have reached the court while Maryam’s counsel Amjad Pervaiz also present in the court.

As many as three references were filed against the members of Sharif family, in line with the directives of the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case.

Nawaz Sharif and his sons Hussain and Hasan are accused in all three references – Hill Metal establishment, London flats and offshore firms –  whereas Maryam and her husband Safdar are named in the Avenfield reference only.

Nawaz Sharif and his daughter on Thursday submitted a plea in the accountability court requesting to defer verdict in Avenfield reference for few days citing Kulsoom Nawaz’s critical health.

On Thursday, the representative of Nawaz Sharif, Zafar Khan submitted the plea in the court, asking the court to delay the verdict. The statement of the plea reads that he won’t be able to appear before the court tomorrow (July 6), due to Kulsoom Nawaz’s critical health.

On the other hand, the PML-N spokesperson Maryam Aurangzeb said that Nawaz’s demand to delay the court verdict of July 6 is legal so the accountability court is requested to announce the verdict on July 25. The courts are the symbol of justice, therefore, a legal plea should be considered, she said.

Earlier, while talking to media in London on Wednesday, Nawaz Sharif requested the court to postpone verdict citing Kulsoom’s health.

Addressing crucial press conference in London, Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said: “I want to hear the judgement in the case while standing in the courtroom. I am a political leader of my nation and I will stand by with them in any circumstances”.

“My wife has been on a ventilator since last 21 days,” adding, “I want to hear Avenfield reference verdict in the court room.”

Nawaz said that he is facing one-sided investigations from July 2017 but the nation is standing with him. He announced to return as soon as Kulsoom Nawaz’s health improves.

The Trial 

The accountability court initiated proceedings against Sharifs in September 2017 after the NAB filed references against them following the Panamagate verdict.

The court conducted over 107 hearings in the Avenfield case and recorded the statements of 18prosecutionn witness including the Panamagate Joint Investigation Team head Wajid Zia, who is also addition director of FIA.

After Zia’s statement, the defence counsels cross-examined the JIT head 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 the other accused were asked 127 questions during their cross-examination, while no witnesses appeared in their defence.

Nawaz and Maryam appeared before the court for 78 times, as they often visited London to meet ailing Kulsoom Nawaz.

Safdar, however, attended nearly all the proceedings.

The proceedings in two other cases — Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment and offshore companies – are yet to be completed.