Avenfield case: Court gives Nawaz, family till Monday to record statements

ISLAMABAD: The testimonies of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, daughter Maryam and son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar in the Avenfield case could not be recorded today as the defence sought more time to ponder over the questions sent by the accountability court.

The Avenfield reference, pertaining to the Sharif family’s London properties, is among three filed against Sharif family by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) last year on the Supreme Court’s directives.

As the hearing went under way, Nawaz’s counsel Khawaja Haris pleaded the court to delay the recording of statements until Monday as they need more time to go over the questions sent by court owing to some discrepancies.

The prosecution objected to the plea, saying the defence just wants to waste time.

However, Accountability Judge Mohammad Bashir approved the plea but observed that the recording of statements will not be delayed further than Monday.

Moreover, the court ruled that Panama case JIT head Wajid Zia, whose cross-examination in the Al Azizia reference was to resume on Monday, should now appear in court on Tuesday.

On Thursday, a questionnaire comprising 127 questions related to the Avenfield properties was handed over to the deposed PM and his family.
The accused were directed to record their statements as per the questionnaire.
At the last hearing on Wednesday, NAB prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi had pleaded the court to record the statement of Nawaz and his family in the Avenfield case. The court had approved the plea despite objections of the defence.

The corruption cases

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.
NAB had earlier filed interim references in all three cases and later added supplementary references to them with new evidence and witnesses.
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 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, on May 9, the trial court’s second plea for a deadline extension was approved by the Supreme Court which gave a month to both sides to finish the corruption cases.