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Pakistan court observes ‘Avenfield trust deed can’t be called fake’

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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday observed that the Avenfield trust deed involving PML-N’s Maryam Nawaz and her brother Hussain Nawaz can’t be called forged.

The court observation came against the decision of an Accountability court in which former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and her daughter Mariyam Nawaz were sentenced and trust deed declared bogus.  

On July 6, 2018, an accountability judge Mohammad Bashir had convicted former premier Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz in Avenfield properties reference and sentenced them 10 years and 07 years imprisonment, respectively.

In the verdict, judge Bashir had declared that “the trust deeds produced by the accused Maryam Nawaz were also found bogus… In view of the role of this accused Maryam Nawaz, she is convicted and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for seven years with fine of two million pounds.”

Subsequently, she was arrested and shifted to Adiala jail. Later, in September 2018, she was released from jail after the Islamabad High Court suspended her prison sentence.

On Friday, The observation came during the hearing of a petition of Maryam Nawaz and her husband, Captain (retd) Safdar, challenging their conviction in the Avenfield Reference filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

A two-judge bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhter Kayani heard the case. Maryam Nawaz appeared before the bench along with her legal team.

Justice Amir Farooq said that the document [Avenfield trust deed] is not fake and it will be called pre-dated as both signatories still believe in dates.

The IHC judge made the observation when the bench was informed by the anti-graft body that they had proved forgery in the trust deed.

During the hearing, the IHC stated that a lack of evidence would result in a different verdict.

It mentioned that if the father made the property illegally and gave it to the son, would the daughter be found guilty? The court said that the petitioner should just prove that NAB could not prove the case, nothing else is required.

The court also inquired about the response of NAB to Maryam Nawaz’s request and expressed concerns over its progress.

Maryam Nawaz’s counsel, Irfan Qadir, said that NAB did not complete the basic details of the case, the actual value and source of the assets were not mentioned in advance. Also, it does not meet the requirements of Section 9-A of the NAB Ordinance. If the court wants, it can give bail to Maryam Nawaz.

Justice Amir Farooq said that the Supreme Court’s observations were of an initial nature. We are not looking at the evidence, we will look at the trial record. It remains to be seen whether the NAB can prove it with evidence.

Justice Mohsin Akhtar said that there will be no delay today, NAB should answer all the questions first.

In his arguments, NAB prosecutor Sardar Mazhar mentioned that Maryam Nawaz claimed to be the trustee of the property.

“NAB has proved through evidence that Maryam was their beneficial owner and forgery in the trust deed, which was confirmed by the trust deed deposited in the Supreme Court before the JIT.”

The court directed all the parties to look into the case papers and adjourned the hearing till February 17.

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