Prosecution clueless on date of property purchase, argues Sharif's counsel

Published: June 25, 2018
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Former PM Nawaz Sharif with his daughter Maryam outside an accountability court in Islamabad. PHOTO: FILE

Former PM Nawaz Sharif with his daughter Maryam outside an accountability court in Islamabad. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: Continuing his final arguments in the Avenfield flats reference on Monday, Nawaz Sharif’s counsel told the accountability court that the prosecution failed to ascertain what was the date when the properties were purchased; what was their actual price and who purchased them from whom.

Sharif’s counsel Khawaja Haris said the prosecution had to tell former PM’s known sources of income when the properties were purchased because only then a comparison could be drawn and one could tell whether the properties were beyond his known sources of income or not.

“The prosecution does not even know the exact date when the Avenfield properties were purchased,” Haris said. “The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and Joint Investigation Team (JIT) did not meet the basic requirements to link ex-PM with the Avenfield properties,” he added.

Haris reiterated his stance that the prosecution had failed to prove Sharif’s link to the London properties. It was prosecution’s job to establish if Sharif’s children were dependent or benamidars but no such evidence was presented before the court, he said.

“Even JIT head Wajid Zia did not tell if children were dependent or benamidars,” Haris said, adding that it has been Sharif’s consistent stance that the children were dependent on their grandfather, Mian Muhammad Sharif.

Haris argued that the JIT report should not be used to direct proceedings of the corruption trial as the court needs to form its own opinion instead of relying on the JIT’s opinion and inferences.

Also, he drew court’s attention to the fact that NAB did not make Tariq Shafi, Abdullah Kaid Ahli and many others accused or witness in the reference despite mentioning their role in the establishment and sale of Gulf Steel Mill, Ahli Steel Mill, respectively, and investment with the Qatari royals.

He argued that the JIT and NAB’s use of the term ‘Sharif family’ is vague in nature and the prosecution has to be specific as the former PM is facing a criminal charge. He said naming or using ‘Sharif family’ as a whole holds no value until individuals in question are assigned specific role.

“Prosecution has to be specific on who counts in the Sharif family and who has what role in it,” he said, adding Nawaz Sharif was neither involved in the Al Towfeeq case or the London properties nor in any of the transactions related to Avenfield properties.

“None of the witnesses or accused said that Mian Nawaz Sharif was paying ground rent for Avenfield properties,” Haris said, adding that the JIT has submitted its report but the court has to see its effect.

Only what the accused submitted in court can be used against him, nothing else, Haris argued, adding that JIT had acted mala fide by including the whole Sharif family in the case when it could not be specific about an individual’s role.

Sharif is charged under Section 9 (a) (v) of the National Accountability Ordinance of 1999 but no specific role has been attributed to him, Haris said.

In addition, he said, Nawaz Sharif has no role in Avenfield properties, Qatari letters, Al-Towfeeq settlement as well as events that took place in Dubai and prosecution relied on the statements of the accused that they gave in their defence.

In his arguments, Haris, while reading the JIT head Wajid Zia’s statement, said throughout his statement he first read the contents of the documents, then presented his [JIT’s] opinion and subsequently said that the accused did not bring any document in this regard.

“One third of Wajid Zia’s statement is what is already in the documents produced before the court and another one third of his statement is based on his implied opinion,” Haris said.

“Prosecution has relied on accused persons’ defence and didn’t build its own case.” Subsequently, he questioned what is collected and produced by the prosecution in the case.

“Where Wajid Zia involves or remotely connects Mian Nawaz Sharif with the case, he only says the JIT considers whatever explanation Sharif’s children gave is incorrect. It’s like putting the cart before the horse,” he said.

The defence counsel further stated that the JIT report cannot be made part of the evidence, as implied before, because it contains opinions and inferences of the investigation team

Haris would continue his final arguments in the Avenfield reference on Tuesday (today).

Court grants Sharif, Maryam three-day exemption

Haris also submitted a plea on behalf of Sharif and Maryam Nawaz seeking a seven-day exemption from appearing before the court in view of Begum Kulsoom’s deteriorating health. The court, however, granted a three-day exemption to the deposed premier and his daughter.

Sharif’s legal team had submitted the medical records along with the application.

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