Legal process ‘not followed’ in Avenfield case

Maryam’s lawyer tells court NAB didn’t probe matter properly


Our Correspondent October 13, 2021
Maryam Nawaz. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD:

PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz's lawyer on Wednesday told the Islamabad High Court that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had not properly investigated the Avenfield properties case and not followed the due process for filing the reference.

The lawyer, Irfan Qadir, told a two-judge bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani that his client’s father, former premier Nawaz Sharif, was convicted in the Avenfield reference for not proving his innocence and Maryam had inherited the sentence.

The bench was hearing the maintainability of an appeal filed by Maryam against her conviction in the Avenfield properties case. She maintained in the application that “certain people” had played a role in her conviction as well as that of her father as well as her husband, Capt (retd) Mohammad Safdar.

The lawyer further contended that the accountability court should not have heard the case filed against the rules.

He added that the apex court, accountability court, joint investigation team and NAB had made a major mistake and there were strange facts that the IHC might acquit his client on their basis.

Qadir further told the court that he would highlight several mistakes made during the pre-trial stage of the case as well as the irregularities in its proceedings.

He claimed that his client had been accused of being a beneficial owner of the Avenfield flats in London based on a trust deed.

He argued that although NAB had first sought the conclusion of the appeals within 30 days, it had now filed an appeal seeking cancellation of Maryam and Safdar's bails.

The court observed that NAB could arrest anyone these days, whether there was any evidence against them or not. NAB officials now function like a police station, the bench quipped.

Read NAB seeks cancellation of Maryam, Safdar’s bail in Avenfield case

The lawyer informed the bench that his client’s new application had mentioned “political engineering” in her case. “There are many doubts and suspicions [in the case],” he claimed. He added that the benefit of doubt should have gone to his client.

Mentioning a document signed by Maryam written in Calibri font, the lawyer said many people had made fun of the matter and he would expose its reality.

Qadir contended that the Sharif family was wealthy even before Nawaz had entered politics.

Justice Kayani sought the document showing the ownership of the Avenfield flats. Qadir replied that such a document did not exist that showed Maryam and Nawaz as the flats’ owners.

NAB Deputy Prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi told the court that the Avenfield properties were owned by offshore companies Nielson and Nescol and Maryam was found to be their beneficial owner.

Qadir responded that Maryam was not a public office-holder, but she was capable of becoming one.

He added that his client’s husband had been convicted in the case even though "he had no role" in the reference.

The lawyer contended that the reference had not been filed by the NAB chairman. “As per law, the court cannot fix a reference for hearing if it has not been filed by the NAB chairperson,” he added.

He argued that this was a strange case in the country's 70-year and NAB's 20-year history. “Maryam has been punished in the case as inheritance.”

The IHC directed NAB to present its arguments at the next hearing and adjourned it till November 17.

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