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Avenfield verdict to be announced at 12.30PM

Judge of the accountability court, who has dismissed the petition filed by deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif and daughter Maryam praying to delay the verdict in the Avenfield reference and grant a seven-day exemption, is set to announce the verdict against Nawaz, Maryam, and Safdar at 12.30PM. 

LONDON: Avenfield House that harbors four flats owned by Nawaz Sharif family. Flat Nos. 16, 16a, 17 and 17a were converted into one after demolishing partition walls. Most of the flats in Avenfield House are owned by offshore companies in Panama, British Virgin Islands, and Guernsey.

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Relevant pieces published earlier:

i) The capital administration has beefed up security in the federal capital amid the expected decision of Avenfield reference case against former Nawaz Sharif to be announced on July 6 (Friday). According to a senior officer of the district administration, police and rangers would be deployed at all sensitive places of the federal capital to avoid any untoward incident. The accountability court of Islamabad Thursday served notice to NAB in petitions of former prime minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and her daughter Maryam Nawaz seeking to postpone the announcement of the verdict in Avenfield property reference for seven-day. The accountability court II judge Malik Arshad who conducted hearing of the petition due to leave of court (I) Judge Muhammad Bashir and fixed the case for hearing tomorrow. The former prime minister filed the petition through his representative Zafir Khan and Maryam Nawaz filed the through her counsel Amjad Pervaiz. The petitioner has stated in her plea that they were unable to appear before the court for some days due to the illness of her mother Begum Kulsoom Nawaz. The petitioners requested the court to postpone the announcement of its order in Avenfield property reference to enable the applicants to be present before the court at the time of the announcement of the verdict. It further stated that the doctors had proposed to perform a tracheostomy of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz in order to optimize her lung function to help wean her from the ventilator. This surgical procedure was proposed to be conducted in the next coming days and it was necessary for the petitioners to stay with her in her critical health condition. In these circumstances, the applicant is constrained to extend their stay in London as the doctors were quite sanguine Begum Kulsoom shall sufficiently recover in the next few days to gain consciousness. The doctors have advised that the presence and support of the patient’s family was imperative for her life, it further stated. The court provided the copies of petitions to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB)’s prosecutor and fixed the case for hearing tomorrow. (5th July 2018)

ii) Federal Minister for Information, Broadcasting, National History and Literary Heritage Syed Ali Zafar Tuesday hoped that Avenfield reference judgment be announced on July 6 would be based on merit and justice. “All requirements of a fair trial were fulfilled during the proceedings, therefore, the verdict will be based on justice and merit, however, the petitioners will have the right to appeal against the decision,” Ali Zafar said while talking to PTV. To a question regarding implementation of the verdict in the absence of Nawaz Sharif in the country, the minister said the decision would be enforced as soon as Nawaz Sharif returned to the country. “There are a number of cases in which accused staying abroad were awarded sentence and on their return to the country, they filed appeals against the decision, therefore, it is hoped that Nawaz Sharif will return to the country,” he said. To another query, the minister said as per law, court proceedings in other three cases, including Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference, would continue simultaneously even after the former prime minister was awarded punishment in the Avenfield case. Replying to a question regarding any agitation in the country in case possible sentence to Nawaz Sharif, the minister said the court had to issue the judgment according to the law which was its legal responsibility, while in case of possible agitation, the caretaker setup would also fulfill its administrative obligation. He, however, ruled out the possibility of delay in general election saying that the election would be held as per the given schedule at all costs. Ali Zafar said the caretaker government had not the mandate to involve in political matters and it must remain neutral. (Published on 4th July 2018)

ii) Maryam Nawaz’s counsel Amjad Pervaiz concluded his cross-examining today with NAB’s last prosecution witness Imran Dogar in Avenfield property reference before the Accountability Court (AC) here. The court adjourned the hearing of the case till tomorrow, wherein NAB prosecutor would give a statement before the court regarding the conclusion of prosecution arguments and pieces of evidence in Avenfield property reference. Accountability Court-I Judge Mohammad Bashir conducted hearing on Avenfield property reference against Sharif family members. Former prime minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif appeared before the court along with their legal team. As the hearing began, Defense counsel Amjad Pervaiz started cross-examination of Dogar, who is the last prosecution witness. Imran Dogar informed the court about NAB’s procedure of inquiries and investigations, as well as lodging of references. He informed the court that the interim investigation report of the Avenfield case was prepared on September 6 last year. He said the statement of Additional Director NAB Rana Muhammad Ali was not recorded under 161 section of NAB Ordinance. In response to a question, Dogar said he has seen the CV of Stefin Smith, according to which he was the resident of London. (7th of May 2018) 

iii) Deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law have been indicted in Avenfield reference today here by an anti-corruption court. Earlier the court had rejected applications of three accused seeking suspension of proceedings. Plea of Nawaz Sharif’s advocate was since Supreme Court has yet not given its decision vis-à-vis application regarding re-filing of references, the indictment should be delayed.  Lawyers of Maryam and Safdar also appealed postponement of an indictment on the grounds that all the relevant documents have not yet been provided to their clients. Sharif’s representative, Maryam, and Safdar were present in the court during the indictment. All three pleaded not guilty: “I do not plead guilty. Charges are not only groundless, baseless and unfounded but also frivolous, and on top of that, we are being denied our right to fair trial. The charges are being framed on a report that is incomplete and controversial. It will go down in history as [a] mockery of justice and travesty of justice. Moreover, the charges are being framed without awaiting the detailed order of the Supreme Court in the review petitions.”It is pertinent to mention here that the 67-year-old Sharif had resigned when he was disqualified from office due to the undeclared source of income.  Commonly referred to as PanamaLeaks, the case revolved around owning of offshore holding companies by Sharif’s sons and daughter. These companies registered in the British Virgin Islands were used to buy properties in London. Sharif’s sons Hassan and Hussain are likely to be indicted in the other two references later today. The trial in Avenfield flats reference is scheduled to commence from October 26. According to sources, the first witness in the case to record her statement will be Sidra Mansoor, Joint Registrar of SECP. (Published on 19th October 2017)

M M Alam

M. M. Alam is a Pakistan-based working journalist since 1981. Karachi University faculty gold medalist Alam began his career four decades ago by writing for Dawn, Pakistan’s highest circulating English daily. He has worked for region’s leading publications, global aviation periodicals including Rotors (of USA) and vetted New York Times as permanent employee of daily Express Tribune. Alam regularly covers international aviation and defense-related events including Salon Du Bourget (France), Farnborough (United Kingdom), Dubai (UAE). Alam has reported thousands of events and interviewed hundreds of people in Pakistan, UAE, EU, UK and USA. Being Francophone Alam also coordinates with a number of French publications.