Panamagate trial: Maryam Nawaz to stand in the dock today

Nawaz Sharif concludes his statement in the London properties reference

Rizwan Shehzad May 23, 2018
Maryam Nawaz. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: Maryam Nawaz, who was caught up in the fallout from the Panama Papers over use of Calibri font in an allegedly faked document, will stand in the witness box today [Thursday] for recording her statement as an accused in the corruption reference against members of the Sharif family.

The future political star of the closely knit and an interdependent monolithic Sharif family is set to answer 128 questions prepared by the accountability court. Before Maryam, her father, the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, completed answering the court’s questionnaire on Wednesday.

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Sharif told the court that he neither would produce any witness in his defence, nor appear as a witness to make statement on oath under section 342 (2) of the Criminal Procedure Code. He said he believed there is no evidence against him.

“It has been proved beyond doubt that Ms Maryam Safdar had been the owner of Avenfield properties,” the joint investigation team (JIT) that probed into Sharifs’ offshore properties had said in its report, adding that the documents submitted by the respondents were ‘fake and manipulated’.

However, the issue of Calibri font’s usage in a ‘fabricated’ trust deed was put in cold storage when the accountability court set aside a portion pertaining to the Calibri font from the charge sheet of the Avenfield Apartments reference.

Judge Muhammad Bashir had accepted Maryam and her husband Captain Safdar’s application for the alteration in the charge sheet to the extent of the Calibri font issue and agreed to the defence counsel argument that the court can take up the matter after pronouncing the final judgment and that too, if the court finds any forged document(s) during trial.

Sharif’s replies

As reported by The Express Tribune on May 22, Sharif informed the court on Wednesday that he does not intend to bring any defence witness in the Avenfield Apartment reference.

“I am innocent. The case against me is one of no evidence,” Sharif stated in his answer to the last – 128th –question of the questionnaire earlier provided by the court.

This implies that Sharif has no plans to bring Qatari royal either whose letters were earlier produced before the JIT and Supreme Court to establish money trail of the Avenfield Apartments. Like her father, sources said, Maryam might also not bring any witness in her defence.

While concluding his statement, Sharif informed the court that the “prosecution has miserably failed to produce even an iota of evidence connecting me even remotely with any of the offences alleged against me, and as such there is no occasion for me to produce any evidence in defence.”

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He said NAB has failed to prove that there was any document of title or any other document which would show that he ever owned Avenfield Properties; ever provided any money for purchase of London properties; paid rent or utility bills in respect of any of properties, or any of bank accounts in his name showed any amount of money being utilized for the purchase of any of the properties.

In addition, he said, there was not any document to show that he was ever on the list of directors or nominee directors, shareholder or nominee shareholders of any of the companies – Nescoll Ltd and Nielsen Enterprises Ltd – from inception till date.

He said apart from two investigation officers – JIT head Wajid Zia and NAB’s investigation officer Muhammad Imran – he said no witness has deposed against him.

“[They] have attempted to implicate me in the charge as framed in this reference. However, admittedly, their testimony as such is not based on their personal knowledge vis-à-vis the allegations forming the basis of the charge against me,” he added.

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