Nawaz's counsel argues 12 depositions in IHC for transfer of cases

Concludes arguments in Al-Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship cases


Rizwan Shehzad August 02, 2018
Concludes arguments in Al-Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship cases. PHOTO: REUTERS/ FILE

ISLAMABAD: Deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif's counsel placed before the Islamabad High Court on Thursday 12 questions of fact that are common to and pivotal for the determination of guilt or innocence of Sharif in the other two references of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Khawaja Haris concluded his arguments before the IHC's division bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb on a petition seeking transfer of the remaining NAB references against Sharif and his sons to any other court.

The counsel informed the bench that while rendering the July 6 judgment in the Avenfield apartments' reference, the trial court judge, Muhammad Bashir, has decided 12 questions of fact which are also common in the Al-Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship and other companies' references.

In his arguments, Haris informed the court that first, the veracity of an agreement reached in 1980 is common in all three references.

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Second, the court has rejected the stance of investment of AED 12 million in Qatar, which is common to all three references.

Third, the counsel said, the letters of Qatari Prince Hamad bin Jassim supporting the investment of AED 12 million has been found to be hearsay, hence rejected by the court.

Fourth, the counsel continued, both the letters and a worksheet relied by Sharif's sons, Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz, to show the source of investment for acquiring assets/businesses in all three references was found to be not good defence.

Next, he said, both the letters and a worksheet prepared to fill the gaps are common in all three references.

Fifth, Haris said, Hamad bin Jassim's conduct has been commented upon adversely by holding that he did not cooperate with the JIT.

Referring to another commonality, Haris said the court has held that children were dependent financially, hence could not acquire assets without financial assistance of 'anyone else/father'.

He said the issue of dependency is common in all three references and the children are held to be dependent on Sharif on the ground that "generally, children remain dependent on their parents" during their tender ages.

Haris maintained that Sharif's speech in the National Assembly made on May 16, 2016 has been considered as an incriminating factor against him in the case, adding his speech is used against him by holding that Article 66 of the Constitution (privileges of members, etc.) is not applicable to this speech. "The speech factor is also common."

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Moreover, Haris drew the court's attention towards media interviews of Sharif's sons. He said the contents of Hassan and Hussain's interviews have been used as incriminating pieces of evidence in the case and the interviews are common in two references.

Haris argued that the court's finding about a Dubai-based company known as Capital FZE is bound to be repeated in the other two references as well, as it forms of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT)'s Volume VI that pertains to the subject matter of Al-Azizia.

He said the existence of Capital FZE of which Sharif is stated to be the chairman belongs to Sharif's son and made the basis for inferring that the entire family of the applicant "daughter, sons and father are one and the same monolith" and that for this reason the applicant cannot disassociate from the assets held in the children's name.

He said the charts of assets and liabilities of the applicant and his two sons presumed to be correct in the judgment, adding these charts form part of Volume IX and IX(A) of the JIT report and are common.

Also, he said, the question regarding the admissibility of or the opinion given in the JIT report is crucial too and common in the other two references.

In addition, he added, the opinion rendered in the JIT report has been held admissible in evidence, inter alia, on the ground that 30-40 experts assisted in preparing the same, but there isn't anything on record as to who were those experts, what was their area of expertise and for what portion of the JIT report did they assist in preparing it.

Lastly, he said, the court has held that the evidence given by one witness, Zahir Shah, is admissible simply because he is a high-ranking official in NAB.

Haris also argued on different types of bias or interest of the trial court's judge, saying he was not imputing any actual pecuniary bias or interest of the judge in the case.

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The counsel roughly produced three dozen judgments to support his arguments.

He said there is a reasonable apprehension in the mind of the accused that the judge may have a conscious or unconscious pre-disposition with regards to the factual aspects of the case which are common to all three references and have been finally and conclusively decided in the Avenfield case, which may tend to prejudice the accused.

He concluded that the test for such an inclination is whether a reasonable person would apprehend such a bent of mind in the particular facts and circumstances of a case.

Following his arguments, the court adjourned the matter for Monday. NAB's prosecutor would present arguments on the transfer application on the next hearing.

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