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IHC suspends Nawaz, Maryam & Safdar sentences in Avenfield case

IHC suspends Nawaz, Maryam & Safdar sentences in Avenfield case

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday suspended the sentences handed to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Mohammad Safdar in the Avenfield corruption reference. The court was hearing the appeals by the Sharifs and Capt ®  Safdar against the sentences awarded to them on July 6.

The National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) special prosecutor Mohammad Akram Qureshi concluded his final arguments today, following which the high court reserved the verdict in the case.

Qureshi argued that after the fixation of appeals against the conviction of the Sharif family in the Avenfield reference, the IHC could not have entertained petitions seeking suspension of sentence.

He further said that since Maryam had prepared a forged declaration of trust in order to rescue her father, “she was equally responsible as she connived to dodge the legal course”.

When the court asked him if the forged documents had led to her conviction for owning assets beyond means, the prosecutor replied: “Maryam hatched the conspiracy.”

Qureshi further argued that Maryam was living with father as a dependent and so “the properties in her name presumably belonged to her father”.

Justice Athar Minallah remarked that “the NAB, after conducting thorough investigation, couldn’t bring any evidence of Nawaz Sharif’s ownership of the Avenfield apartments, but you want us to admit his ownership on mere presumption.”

Qureshi responded that the “law of evidence empowers the court to presume facts in certain situations.”

The prosecutor was reminded that there is a room of giving the benefit of the doubt to the accused, and that the precedents of the apex court bound the bureau to follow certain procedures in order to shift the burden of proof on accused persons.

At this, Qureshi said that “since the properties belong to a foreign jurisdiction, therefore, it is a distinguished case and these were not applicable to this case”.