Court seeks Nawaz's response to 127 questions in Avenfield reference

ISLAMABAD: An accountability court has sought responses to 127 questions from Nawaz Sharif in the Avenfield Properties reference, official informed media.

The Avenfield reference, pertaining to the Sharif family’s London properties, is among three filed against Sharif family by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) last year on the Supreme Court’s directives.

The questionnaire, handed over to the accused and a copy of which was obtained by media, inquires Nawaz about the statements of each witness presented by his counsel.

The document also includes questions as to why the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) that probed the Panama Leaks case was formed, all the evidence presented to the court, and letters from other countries.

Included in the questionnaire are queries about the establishment of Gulf Steel Mills and the debts and liabilities of the entity.

The court has sent for a response to how Nawaz’s children became the director and shareholder of the Hudaibiya Paper Mills.

The document also inquires about the television interviews of Hassan and Hussain Nawaz, statements of witnesses Robert Radley and Akhtar Riaz Raja, and JIT Head Wajid Zia.

A question about why the reference was filed against Nawaz and the statements of prosecution’s witnesses against the deposed prime minister is also part of the document.

The court has also inquired the defendant if they want to submit any evidence in their defence.

During the last hearing of the case on Friday, Nawaz’s counsel Khawaja Haris pleaded the court to delay the recording of statements until Monday as the defence needed more time to go over the questions sent by court owing to some discrepancies.

Accountability Judge Mohammad Bashir approved the plea but observed that the recording of statements will not be delayed further than Monday (May 21).

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.