ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) courtroom where the appeals filed by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam and son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar against the Avenfield case verdict are being heard is packed to the brim.
According to sources, there are over 100 people inside the courtroom made to accommodate around three dozen people.
The hearing went under way as soon as IHC Justices Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb entered the courtroom.
Nawaz’s counsel Khawaja Haris, beginning his arguments, stated that the accountability judge has already given his verdict in one reference and thus cannot hear the remaining two references.
Justice Aurangzeb asked Haris if the judge has given an opinion on the other two references in the Avenfield judgment.
The hearing is under way.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leaders Raja Zafarul Haq, Senator Pervaiz Rasheed and Zafarullah Khan are also present in the court.
On Monday, the legal counsels of the Sharif family — who are currently serving their respective sentences at Adiala jail — had filed three different appeals on behalf of their clients.
Nawaz’s counsel Haris filed an appeal challenging the verdict against his client and requesting its suspension till IHC’s adjudication in the case. Similarly, Amjad Pervaiz filed the appeals on behalf of Maryam and Capt (retd) Safdar.
An additional appeal was also filed requesting the court to transfer the Al-Azizia and Flagship Investment references against Nawaz from the court of Accountability Judge-I Mohammad Bashir to another accountability court.
An accountability court on July 6 had sentenced Nawaz to a total 11 years in prison and slapped a £8 million fine (Rs1.3 billion) in the corruption reference while his daughter Maryam was sentenced to eight years with a £2 million fine (Rs335 million). Additionally, Nawaz’s son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar was given a one-year sentence without any fine.
Appeals highlight legal flaws in Avenfield verdict
The appeals — that highlight the legal flaws in the Avenfield judgement — ask for the accountability court’s verdict to be declared null and void and the three convicts to be released on bail.
They state that the Panamagate Joint Investigation Team (JIT) head and prosecution’s star witness Wajid Zia himself accepted that a response to the mutual legal assistance (MLA) request was not received.
Levelling allegations without receiving a response to the MLA was mala fide, they further add.
Legal counsels of the convicts have contended that the prosecution’s witness Robert Radley not only stated that Calibri font was available for testing purposes, he admitted to having downloaded and used the Calibri font which was available as pre-release of Windows Vista known as BETA-1 since the year 2005 while simultaneously admitting that he was neither a computer expert nor an IT expert or a computer geek.
The trial against the Sharif family commenced on September 14, 2017.
On July 6, after four extensions in the original six-month deadline to conclude all three cases, the court announced its verdict in the Avenfield reference.
Nawaz and his sons, Hussain and Hasan, are accused in all three references whereas Maryam and Safdar were 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.
On July 10, the Supreme Court granted another six-week extension for Accountability Court-I Judge Mohammad Bashir to conclude the remaining corruption references against Nawaz and former finance minister Ishaq Dar.