Ousted Sharifs file appeal against Avenfield verdict in IHC

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ISLAMABAD : Deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, and Captain (retd) Safdar Awan filed an appeal against the verdict in the Avenfield Properties corruption reference in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday.

An accountability court had sentenced Nawaz to a total of 11 years in prison and slapped a £8 million fine (Rs1.3 billion) in the corruption reference while his daughter Maryam was sentenced to eight years with a £2 million fine (Rs335 million). Additionally, Nawaz’s son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar was given a one-year sentence without any fine.

The appeal — that highlights the legal flaws in the Avenfield judgement — asks for the accountability court’s verdict to be declared null and void and the three convicts to be released on bail.
The appeal states that Panamagate Joint Investigation Team (JIT) head and prosecution’s star witness Wajid Zia himself accepted that a response to the mutual legal assistance (MLA) request was not received. It further said that levelling allegations without receiving a response to the MLA was mala fide.

Legal counsels of the convicts have contended that the prosecution’s witness Robert Radley not only stated that Calibri font was available for testing purposes, he admitted to having downloaded and used the Calibri font which was available as pre-release of Windows Vista known as BETA-1 since the year 2005 while simultaneously admitting that he was neither a computer expert nor an IT expert or a computer geek.

Speaking to the media in the federal capital today, Maryam’s legal counsel Amjad Pervaiz stated that the accountability court’s verdict in the Avenfield reference was not in compliance with the law.

“The accountability court’s verdict is in contradiction with the law and declaring it void would serve justice,” Pervaiz told media persons.

“Our case is very strong and on merit. We are right and we hope to get some relief,” he said.

Nawaz and Maryam arrived in Pakistan on Friday evening. They were arrested upon their arrival in Lahore and shifted to Adiala Jail in separate convoys. Safdar was arrested earlier on July 9.

Maryam’s appeal was drafted on Saturday, however, her legal counsels who were in Adiala Jail to get the power of attorney (Vakalatnama) signed by their client were unable to file the petition before the court hours ended, sources said.

On July 6, after four extensions in the original six-month deadline to conclude all three cases, the court announced its verdict in the Avenfield reference.

Nawaz and his sons, Hussain and Hasan, are accused in all three references whereas Maryam and Safdar were accused in the Avenfield reference only.
The two brothers, based abroad, have been absconding since the proceedings began last year and were declared proclaimed offenders by the court.

On July 10, the Supreme Court granted another six-week extension for Accountability Court-I Judge Mohammad Bashir to conclude the remaining corruption references against Nawaz and former finance minister Ishaq Dar.

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