The hearing of the Avenfield reference filed against the Sharif family by the National Accountability Bureau was adjourned till April 9 after Judge Mohammad Bashir, presiding over the hearings since September, took a leave of absence.
Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam and son-in-law Captain (retd) Safdar appeared on Friday at the accountability court in Islamabad, accompanied by Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo and Chief of Pakhtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party Mehmood Khan Achakzai.
Duty Judge Muhammad Arshad Malik took up the case in absence of Judge Muhammad Bashir, who is on medical leave, and adjourned till April 9 after marking attendance of the accused.
In the previous hearing, the accountability judge had mentioned that he was unwell but had continued court proceedings for the day – during which Wajid Zia, head of the Joint Investigation Team, revealed that the team did not collect any document to establish if Nawaz had received salary from Capital FZE.
Meanwhile, during the seventh day of cross examination, it emerged that the JIT hired a law firm “Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers” which had provided most of the source documents, including the ones linking Sharif with Capital FZE, to JIT – placed in Volume 6 of the JIT report.
The documents obtained from the law firm and stamped by the Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority apparently pertain to former prime minister’s employment contract, payment certificate and details including him being the chairman of the board at Capital FZE from July 8, 2006, to July 7, 2008 – however, the papers did not state Sharif actually received salary from the company.
While the ‘Employment Contract for Sponsored Staff’ states that Sharif remained chairman from July 8, 2006, to July 7, 2008, the JAFZA’s letter of July 4, 2017 by Shehab Sultan Mesmar said Sharif remained chairman from Aug 7, 2006, to April 20, 2014. The payment certificate shows that two employees did receive salaries, but the JIT does not have any evidence to show that the employees include Nawaz Sharif.
Supreme Court had disqualified Sharif last year while hearing the Panama Papers case when JIT had produced some documents of the Capital FZE Company. The apex court had concluded that Nawaz Sharif had not declared receivable salary in his nomination papers for the 2013 election.