Court to announce Avenfield reference verdict on July 6

ISLAMABAD: The accountability court hearing the corruption references against deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members reserved the verdict in the Avenfiled reference case on Tuesday and will announce the verdict on July 6.

The announcement by the accountability court judge, Mohammad Bashir, came shortly after the counsel for Maryam Nawaz concluded his final arguments.

Meanwhile, the court also granted one-day exemption to Nawaz  from appearing in the hearings.

Nawaz, Maryam decide to return for accountability court hearing

Earlier in the day, Judge Bashir was irked by prosecution’s request to prevent defence counsel from questioning documents attached in the JIT during the hearing of Al Azizia and Hill Metal case.

When Khawaja Harris inquired about verification of the Arabic and translated copies of professional license and land rent agreement, Zia replied neither Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) was sought nor did the two JIT members who travelled to Dubai for investigation verified the documents.

In a follow up, Harris asked why the volume 3 of the JIT only included one page of the translated documents rather than a complete set. Zia admitted it to be “an inadvertent mistake.”

The cross-examination also revealed that the JIT did not attempt to contact the translator, Ahmed Badran of Atlis Legal Translation, to verify the professional license. “Did the JIT seek verification from an MLA that the license was issued by Dubai Municipality?” asked Harris.

Zia said the documents showed they were issued by Dubai Municipality but the team did not verify it with an MLA.

At this point, NAB prosecutor Wasiq Malik raised an objection that the defence counsel was questioning documents which were not submitted as evidence. “The defence can only inquire about the veracity of documents referred to in the witness statement,” he said. He requested court to bar Harris from questions arising from the documents.

Irked by the irony of the request, Judge Bashir wondered why the prosecution had attached the documents in the JIT report if they did not want them to debated over in court. He then directed the defence counsel to continue cross-examination.

The professional license was first notarized in 1980 and again in May, 2016. It is attested by the United Arab Emirates Foreign Office and Pakistani Consulate General in UAE. On the other hand, the land rent agreement dated April 1974 is issued by Rulers Office in the name of Tariq Shafi and Muhammad Hussain for a total area of 10, 000 sq feet for a period of 1975-1976.

Avenfield reference: Nawaz, Maryam get week’s exemption from court

Unlike Avenfield, Zia came prepared for the inquiries pertaining to sending a questionnaire in advance. When asked if the JIT had sent a questionnaire to a witness in advance, Zia said the team had decided to not send a questionnaire to any witness who had been summoned.

However, he added that “it was correct to suggest that the JIT did not state its decision in the report.”

Did any of the witnesses who were summoned, including Shafi, Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz, ask for a questionnaire in advance?, asked Harris.

Seeking court’s permission to go through his records, Zia sought additional time to answer the question. Subsequently, the court adjourned hearing in Al Azizia case until tomorrow [Wednesday].

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