UK-based witnesses record statements against Sharifs

Avenfield case


Sophia Siddiqui

Accountability Court hearing NAB references against former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members recorded the statements of two witnesses, forensic expert Robert Radley and solicitor Akhtar Raja, via video-link from UK.
The court was hearing the supplementary reference in the Avenfield case against Nawaz and his family.
NAB Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi, Investigation Director Amjad Majeed and the representatives of the accused were present at the Pakistan High Commission in London, where the recording took place and transmitted live to the court.
During the hearing, one of the witnesses Robert Radley said that he examined the possible change in the dates on the declaration papers of Nelson and Nescol. During his testimony before the court, Radley said that the dates were changed on the pages two and three of the declaration. Radley said that the page two and three of both the declarations seemed similar and it is hard to tell the fake from the original. He explained that 2004 was changed into 2006 in the documents, adding that most likely ‘4’ was in place of ‘6’ in the year. The documents had four stapler holes instead of two, said the witness, adding that it seemed that to change the documents the corner piece was opened.
He further said that he examined the typing font of the documents as well. Radley in his testimony said that the declaration could not have been prepared commercially before January 31, 2007.
Earlier, Nawaz’s counsel Khawaja Haris objected to the presence of NAB officials in London. The judge remarked that a representative of the accused was also present in the court to maintain balance, to which Haris responded that the representatives were just there for observation.
Head of Panama case Joint Investigation Team, FIA Additional Director, Wajid Zia, was in court after having been summoned.
Ordering Nawaz’s disqualification in the Panama Papers case on July 28, 2017, the Supreme Court had directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to file three references against the Sharif family and ordered the trial court to wrap up the proceedings in six months.
During the hearing on Thursday, Nawaz’s counsel Ayesha Hamid argued against the Al Azizia and Flagship supplementary references filed by NAB recently. She claimed that there is nothing new in the supplementary references.
Hamid also pleaded the court to ask the monitoring judge of the case, Supreme Court Justice Ijazul Ahsan, to extend the six-month deadline, saying recording statements of 16 new witnesses will take time and should not be taken lightly.

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