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Nawaz answers over 50 questions in Avenfield case

ISLAMABAD: Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday began recording his statement in the Avenfield reference before an accountability court in Islamabad.

Judge Muhammad Bashir was recording the statement of the former premier under section 342 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

The judge had prepared a questionnaire containing 128 questions which was handed over to the counsel for the Sharif family earlier on May 16.

At the outset of the hearing, the judge asked Mr. Sharif about his age, to which he answered that he was aged 68 years. He said he served as the chief minister of Punjab and Prime Minister of Pakistan.

He termed the July 28 verdict that disqualified him from the office of prime minister as uncalled for and unnecessary. Under Article 10 of the Constitution, he said, he is entitled to fair trial but the verdict affected his right to fair trial.

To a query about the ownership of the Avenfield flats, Mr. Sharif said: “I was never involved or associated in any capacity in the acquisition of the Avenfield apartments.”

He also denied that he has stated on the floor of the National Assembly that he was a real or beneficial owner of the flats and added that it has always been his stance that he was neither a real or benami owner of the flats.

The former premier also expressed reservations over the constitution of the JIT that probed his wealth. He said Wajid Zia, who headed the probe team, hired his own relatives to fabricate evidence against him and members of his family.

He feigned ignorance when asked about the funds for the creation of Gulf Steel Mills and said according to Tariq Shafi, his relative, the factory was created through loans.

Mr. Sharif further said his deceased father Mian Sharif had made Hussain and Maryam Nawaz directors of Hudaibiya Paper Mills.

In previous hearing, Defence counsel Khawaja Haris told Judge Muhammad Bashir that some questions in the questionnaire given to his clients were illegible. He pleaded to the court to put off the statements of the accused till later stage of the case proceedings.

National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar opposed the suggestion and said that the questions, which are legible should be replied, while the answers to not understandable questions  can be given later.

Accountability Judge in his remarks said that Sharifs have last opportunity on Monday to record their statements under Section 342 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

The judge had earlier allowed a request by the prosecution to initiate the process of recording statements of the accused as all witnesses have already recorded their statements and also been cross-examined by the defence side.

Accountability references

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his sons – Hussain and Hasan – have been named in three accountability references whereas his daughter Maryam and son-in-law Capt Safdar have been nominated in the Avenfield reference only.

As per Avenfield Properties reference, Sharif, his brood and his son-in-law had purchased four flats in Park Lane, UK, without legitimate financial means. However, the former premier and his family members have consistently claimed that the apartments were purchased with legal means.

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