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Nawaz, Maryam seek exemption from court appearance

ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz, and son-in-law retired Captain Safdar appeared on Tuesday before an accountability court for the hearing of corruption references filed against them by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Accountability Judge Muhammad Bashir adjourned the trial proceedings till Thursday when he was informed that the Sharif family’s lawyer, Khawaja Harris, couldn’t appear owing to his personal engagements.

He set Feb 22 for recording the statements of two British nationals through a video link at the Pakistan High Commission in London.

Meanwhile, the former premier, his daughter and son-in-law moved applications seeking exemption from personal appearance before the court for two weeks from Feb 19 onwards.

It was submitted that treatment of Sharif’s wife Kulsoom Nawaz had entered the final stage, which warranted the presence of her family members beside her.

The applicants, therefore, pleaded that they should be allowed to proceed to London.

The ex-PM and his daughter arrived at Islamabad airport from Lahore via special plane. After brief stay at Punjab House, they headed to the court amid tight security.

At the previous hearing, a prosecution witness, Abdul Wahid, a director general at Directorate of Electronic Media and Publications (DEMP), provided CDs containing the interviews of Sharif’s son Hussain Nawaz.

He informed the judge that he had previously provided the anti-graft body with the CDs containing Sharif’s address to the nation and his speech at the parliament.

At the start of the proceedings, Sharif’s lead counsel Khawaja Harris argued that the three CDs provided by the prosecution were damaged as an error of insupportable format prompted.

Later, the CDs were played at the courtroom.

“The player is supporting the videos’ format and CDs are absolutely fine,” quipped Deputy Prosecution General NAB Sardar Muzaffar Abbas.

Sharif’s counsel Khawaja Harris cross-examined the NAB witness.

The accountability court had earlier approved a plea filed by the NAB to record statements of two UK-based prosecution witnesses via video link.

Avenfield supplementary reference

According to the reference filed by NAB, Sharif is the actual owner of the London properties, which he had bought in the name of his children.

It alleges Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz and son Hussain Nawaz provided fake documents to a joint investigation team appointed to probe the ruling family’s wealth with regard to the flats in a pricey London neighbhourhood.

The reference states that the Sharifs failed to provide the money trail behind the purchase of the Avenfield flats and the Trust Deed between Maryam and Hussain presented to the JIT found to be fake.

Naming Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz, sons – Hussain and Hasan – and son-in-law Captain (retd) Safdar as accused in the reference, it maintains they have committed corruption, which is punishable act under Section 10 of the National Accountability Ordinance.

It further says that an investigation against, Tariq Shafi, former premier’s cousin, Saeed Ahmed, President National Bank of Pakistan, Javed Kayani and Mosa Ghani was also underway.

The supplementary reference included seven witnesses, including expert of the Radley Forensic Document Laboratory in London, Robert W. Radley and solicitor.

TV interviews of the former premier, Maryam, Hasan and Hussain have also been made a part of the evidence.

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