General

Avenfield case: Nawaz, Maryam to record statement on Friday, rules court

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam, and son-in-law will record their statement in the Avenfield properties reference on Friday.
The orders were given by the accountability court as it resumed hearing the corruption cases against the former premier and his family today. 
Accountability Court-I Judge Mohammad Bashir observed that the accused will be given a questionnaire today with regards to their recording of statements on Friday. 
At the last hearing on Wednesday (yesterday), National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi had pleaded the court to record the statement of Nawaz and his family in the Avenfield case.
After Nawaz’s counsel Khawaja Haris and Abbasi completed their arguments on the request, the court reserved its verdict on the plea.
It ruled later that it would prepare a questionnaire today to be presented to the accused as a prelude to recording their statement.  
Wajid Zia’s cross-examination 
Moreover, during today’s hearing, Nawaz’s counsel began the cross-examining of the prosecution’s star witness, Wajid Zia, in the Al Azizia reference.
Zia, an additional director at the Federal Investigation Agency, headed the Panama case joint investigation team (JIT) which probed the Sharif family’s assets last year.
Nawaz and his daughter Maryam were present in the accountability court today. 
The hearing of the Al Azizia reference was then adjourned until Monday, when the cross-examination will continue. 
At the last hearing, Zia had completed recording his statement in the accountability court.
Zia has previously testified against the Sharif family in Avenfield reference, over which Harris cross-examined him for 10 days. 
The Al Azizia Steel Mills reference is among three filed against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family by the NAB last year on the Supreme Court’s directives.
The corruption cases 
The corruption references, filed against the Sharifs, pertain to the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment, offshore companies including Flagship Investment Ltd, and Avenfield properties of London.
NAB had earlier filed interim references in all three cases and later added supplementary references to them with new evidence and witnesses.
Nawaz and sons Hussain and Hasan are accused in all three references whereas his daughter Maryam and son-in-law Safdar are accused in the Avenfield reference only.
The court originally had a deadline of six months which ended in mid-March but was extended for two months after the judge requested the apex court.
Later, on May 9, the trial court’s second plea for a deadline extension was approved by the Supreme Court which gave a month to both sides to finish the corruption cases.