PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz and her husband Capt (retd) Safdar’s counsel has raised questions over the conviction of their clients during the hearing of their appeals in Avenfield Apartments corruption reference at the Islamabad High Court (IHC), saying the case lacked evidence from the very beginning.
A division bench of the IHC comprising Justice Amir Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani heard the appeals of both the PML-N leaders.
During the hearing, Maryam’s lawyer quoted NAB as saying that the Avenfield apartments were purchased in 1993 whereas Maryam’s trust deed was of 2006.
He questioned how could an action taken in 2006 help a crime that was committed in 1993, adding that the sentence was announced after declaring the trust deed fake on the opinion of Robert Ridley – a UK-based witness in the case.
He said Ridley had himself admitted in the cross-examination that he was not a computer expert.
The bench remarked that it was the responsibility of the NAB to prove its allegations “beyond any doubt”. It said the burden of proof was passed on the accused only if the prosecution fulfilled its responsibility.
The counsel said he wanted to show the court the supplementary reference of Avenfield, adding that it was filed after recording the statements of eight witnesses.
The court remarked that the role of Maryam would be reduced if the indictment was not amended under the supplementary reference.
The lawyer replied that the anti-graft watchdog had tried to hold the entire Sharif family responsible in the supplementary reference.
He said NAB after making PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif the prime accused stated that the property was in the name of his son Hussain Nawaz.
The counsel requested the court not to accept the supplementary reference. My case was to amend the indictment under the supplementary reference, he said.
The lawyer maintained that Maryam was sentenced on the “mere opinion” of Ridley. He said the opinion of an expert cannot be given the status of a principal status.
Later, the hearing of the case was adjourned till June 23.
In July 2018, an accountability court convicted Maryam and Safdar in the Avenfied corruption reference. Maryam was awarded eight-year imprisonment with a £2 million fine.
Safdar was handed down two-year rigorous imprisonment.
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