ISLAMABAD: An accountability court granted one-day exemption to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz from personal appearance in the Avenfield apartments reference, while rejecting their applications seeking exemption till April 27.
Judge Mohammad Bashir said the Sharif family could file a new application for further exemption if they failed to make it by the next hearing due to unavoidable circumstances.
The accountability court, meanwhile, accepted an application of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for submission of additional record in the case.
A closed friend in the Pakistan Muslim League-N told media that after the court’s refusal to grant him exemption from the April 23 hearing, Nawaz Sharif was planning to return to the country as he did not want to give an impression as if he had gone abroad to avoid the courts.
When contacted, PML-N information secretary Mushahidullah Khan said though he was not aware of Mr Sharif’s exact schedule, one thing was clear — that Mr Sharif would return before the next date of the hearing. He said Mr Sharif would fully abide by the court’s orders.
Ms Maryam, who along with her father has been in the UK since early this week to see Kulsoom Nawaz at a London hospital, retweeted a post that stated: “A daughter cannot look after her ailing mother and the thrice-elected prime minister cannot take care of his sick wife”.
Earlier, she had tweeted: “Ami being taken for radiotherapy. Has become weak & frail due to excessive vomiting. Can’t walk or move unaided. Prayers needed. Thank you.”
Ms Nawaz was reportedly discharged from hospital after her chemotherapy treatment.
Responding to questions in London, Mr Sharif told the media that doctors had informed them that surgery would be done if cancer reappeared. “Findings after radiotherapy will be compared to ascertain if surgical procedure is required or not,” he added.
In his application filed by his counsel Advocate Amjad Pervez, Mr Sharif stated: “The applicant needs some time to sit with the doctors who are treating her [Kulsoom Nawaz], along with his other family members, to exhaustively discuss all the options available for her treatment, and to thereafter reach a consensus decision on this count in the best interest of his wife.”
“The applicant requests this Hon’ble Court to grant [him] exemption from personal appearance for seven days with effect from April 20 allowing him to be with his wife in London and settle all her medical affairs before returning to Pakistan and re-joining the trial, which he undertakes to do by next Friday i.e. April 27.”
The counsel also submitted a medical report, dated April 18, of Dr Daniel Krell that stated, “Mrs Sharif has been admitted to the Harley Street Clinic since Monday for symptom control. She is extremely fatigued from a combination of her radiotherapy and poor appetite and poor oral intake and is requiring intravenous fluids to hydrate her… She will need to stay in hospital for the duration of her radiotherapy and until her symptoms are better controlled.”
Both Mr Sharif and his daughter had left for the UK earlier this week after the defence counsel concluded cross-examination of prosecution witness and Panamagate Joint Investigation Team head Wajid Zia.
Opposing the plea for seven-day exemption, NAB’s special prosecutor Afzal Qureshi said that one of the applicants had previously attended a public gathering after being exempted from personal appearance before the accountability court for one day.
According to the prosecutor, both applicants have ample time to settle the matter related to medical affairs before the next date of trial proceedings.
The accountability court summoned the prosecution witness, Wajid Zia, for recording of testimony in Al-Azizia reference on April 23.
The court allowed NAB to place the additional record that it had recently procured from the UK in response to its requests for Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) related to Avenfield properties and companies owned by Mr Sharif’s son, Hussain Nawaz.
Opposing the plea, the defence counsel argued that the NAB application was filed with mala fide intent at a time when the court had almost concluded the trial in Avenfield reference.
However, head of the prosecution Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi said that International Cooperation Wing (ICW) of NAB sent requests to the Central Authority of the UK for provision of certain record related to the Avenfield properties and companies owned by Mr Sharif’s son.
He said the documents had been procured through a proper channel by NAB’s ICW director general Zahir Shah. He requested the court to summon Mr Shah as witness in this case. As per NAB application, the documents received through MLA included the record of land registry, register of title for the four Avenfield flats, copies of utility bills and payment of taxes.
The defence counsel said the documents had already been submitted by the Sharif family before the Supreme Court during the hearing of the Panama Papers case. He alleged that the NAB’s investigation team before placing this record before the accountability court leaked it to the media portraying it as “latest revelations”.
He said the NAB had received the documents from the UK on March 20 when cross-examination of Mr Zia was under way. Had this information been produced timely, the witness could have been cross-examined about the MLA’s requests also, he argued.
However, he said: “These documents have already been exhibited and the star witness has also been cross-examined with regard to the said evidence.” He added that these were the same documents which the JIT had deliberately not investigated properly.
On April 13, the defence counsel while referring to the land record and register of title for the Avenfield properties stated that Avenfield apartments were registered under the proprietorship of Nescoll Enterprises, c/o Dibb Lupton Broomhead, in 1993, 1995 and 1996. He explained that Lawrence Radley, one of the partners of Broomhead, had confirmed that the Sharif family did not purchase these apartments. He was of the opinion that the JIT did not record the statement of Mr Radley since it was in consistent with the stance taken by the Sharif family.