Nawaz's link to property 'not established'

Published: June 21, 2018
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Deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif. 
PHOTO: FILE

Deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: The lead counsel for Nawaz Sharif in the Avenfield reference, Khawaja Haris, on Wednesday said the prosecution team of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) “has miserably failed to bring forth any evidence to prove deposed prime minister’s link to the London properties.

During his final arguments in the case, Haris cited and brought on record 15 past judgments of the Supreme Court and high courts, outlining four requirements that the prosecution has to meet to shift the burden of proof on the accused.

He said before he could defend Sharif, the prosecution had to establish that the accused owned, directly or indirectly, or held any beneficial part of the property while holding a public office.

“Not only the property ownership, the prosecution, as required by the law, has to prove that the property owned by the accused is beyond his sources of income known to prosecution ‘after thorough investigation’,” Haris maintained.

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The counsel cited cases of Khalid Aziz vs. State; Hakim Ali Zardari vs. State; Ghaniur Rehman vs. NAB; Muhammad Hashim Babar vs. State; Qasim Shah vs. State; Imtiaz Ahmad vs. State; Javed Akhtar Kiyani vs. State; and at least eight high court cases where the courts outlined the requirements for the prosecution to meet against a person charged with corruption and corrupt practices under the NAB Ordinance 1999.

“[The] prosecution had to show that the assets are owned or possessed by the accused or his benamidar and that these assets are disproportionate to his known sources of income.

“They also had to prove that the accused is holder of a public office. This has not been done in this case,” Haris maintained before the accountability court judge Muhammad Bashir.

The counsel said that prosecution witness Wajid Zia’s on-oath statement that one of the four London flats was exclusively used by Sharif was not supported [by evidence or any witness].

He said both Hassan and Hussain Nawaz were quoted by the same JIT that Apartment No 16 which, Zia claimed was in Sharif’s use, remained unused and unoccupied over the years.

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Haris also pointed out ‘poor standards’ of investigation by NAB, saying the investigation officer when he went to London in December 2017 made no effort to meet Lawrence Radley, who had acted on behalf of the purchasers of the Avenfield Apartments in 1993 to 1996.

“[The] prosecution has failed to show Nawaz Sharif’s connection to the property. Ownership is not proved. No connection established. The prosecution is confused [about the ownership of the property], as is Wajid Zia,” Haris maintained.

The defence team will continue its final arguments in the case on Thursday.

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