General

Wajid Zia records statement in Avenfield reference against Nawaz, family

The head of the Panama Papers Joint Investigation Team (JIT) Wajid Zia began recording his statement in the Avenfield properties case against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family on Thursday.
As Judge Mohammad Bashir began proceedings of the Avenfield case earlier today, Nawaz and Maryam asked to be exempted from appearance owing to the former premier’s ill health. Accepting their request, the court, however, directed Nawaz’s son-in-law MNA Capt (retd) Safdar to remain present in court.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had filed three interim corruption references against the Sharif family in September last year in light of the Supreme Court’s July 28 verdict in the Panama Papers case. The bureau recently filed supplementary references in all three cases as well.
The hearing was briefly adjourned at the outset owing to Zia’s absence.
As Zia appeared in court with the JIT report, he narrated the work of the JIT, which had recorded the statements of the Nawaz family and several other persons associated with the Panama Papers case.
Maryam and Safdar’s counsel, Amjad Pervez, then began cross-examining Zia.
Pervez contended that the JIT’s observations in its report cannot be made part of the case.
During the previous hearing on March 2, Nawaz’s counsel had submitted a request to club Zia’s testimony for all three references. The judge, however, dismissed the plea and ordered Zia to appear in court today and record his statement in the Avenfield case.
The cases
The trial against the Sharif family had commenced on September 14, 2017.
The corruption references, filed against the Sharif family, pertain to the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment, offshore companies including Flagship Investment Ltd, and Avenfield properties of London.
Nawaz and sons Hussain and Hasan are accused in all three references whereas his daughter Maryam and son-in-law MNA Capt (retd) Safdar are accused in the Avenfield reference only.
The two brothers, based abroad, have been absconding since the proceedings began last year and were declared proclaimed offenders by the court.