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Avenfield reference: Nawaz, Maryam’s exemption pleas rejected

ISLAMABAD: An accountability court on Thursday rejected a plea from former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz seeking a five-day exemption from appearance in the three references.

Accountability Judge Muhammad Bashir resumed hearing in the Avenfield reference against the Sharif family. National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Deputy Prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi gave his concluding arguments on the third consecutive hearing.

The petition stated that both wanted to travel to London to meet Kulsoom Nawaz who was undergoing treatment. The new medical report of Kulsoom Nawaz was also attached with the petition.

However, the court rejected the exemption pleas by Nawaz and his daughter, after apprehensions that both may flee abroad as the case reaches a conclusion.

Nawaz Sharif had filed a request seeking exemption from June 11-15. After making a brief appearance, he was allowed to leave after staying in court for a short while.

‘Nawaz Sharif is the actual owner of the London flats’

The prosecutor remarked that Nawaz and his family concealed ownership through offshore companies. “Nawaz Sharif is the actual owner of the London flats,” he said.

He said that Hussain Nawaz was a student from 1993-96 and had no source of income, but had possession of the London properties. Furthermore, the Sharif family paid ground rent which is the responsibility of the owner while it was not possible to conceal bearer shares in 2006.

He added that there are no records to show that bearer shares were transferred from Qatari Prince Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Al-Thani to Hussain Nawaz. He said the Joint Investigation Team which was formed to probe Nawaz’s assets tried to record the statement of the Qatari prince but he failed to appear despite repeated summons.

The NAB prosecutor said the Sharif family’s counsel was dismissing the evidence as insignificant to delay the concluding remarks. He said there was sufficient evidence of the long-standing possession of the London properties by the Sharif family.

Nawaz filed another petition challenging the court’s verdict to dismiss his petition regarding hearing the final arguments of three references together. He requested that the Islamabad High Court to delay the concluding arguments in Avenfield reference and give the verdict of all cases together.

The petition states that the prosecution’s main witness Wajid Zia can improve his testimonies in other two references, and that all three references should have been heard together.

Nawaz Sharif and his family members are facing three corruption references in the accountability court — Avenfield Properties, Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Flagship Investments — and are accused of money laundering, tax evasion and hiding offshore assets.

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