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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC), on Thursday, granted the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President, Maryam Nawaz, exemption from personal appearance for one day in hearing of appeals in the Avenfield Apartment reference.

A two-member bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani heard an application filed by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s daughter through her lawyer Amjad Pervez.

During the hearing, the counsel submitted an application seeking exemption from personal appearance of Maryam Nawaz for a day.

He stated in the application that his client was busy in running her party’s campaign for the upcoming election in the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and due to this, she could not turn up before the court.

Acceding her application, the court granted exemption to Maryam for one day and deferred the hearing till July 29 for further proceedings.

Maryam Nawaz and her husband Captain (retd) Mohammad Safdar Awan had filed appeals against their conviction in the Avenfield Apartment reference.

The IHC had previously separated the appeals of Nawaz Sharif from the appeals of Maryam and Safdar and declared the former premier, a proclaimed offender, over his perpetual absence from the hearing.

On July 6, 2018, accountability judge Mohammad Bashir had convicted Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif, and Captain (retd) Mohammad Safdar Awan, in the Avenfield Apartment reference, and awarded them prison terms of 10 years, seven years, and one year, respectively.

The court had later suspended their respective sentences.

In her appeal, Maryam stated she was convicted under Section 9 (a)(v) and (xii) of the NAO, 1999 and for the offence at Serial No 2 of the Schedule to the NAO, 1999, and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for seven years with fine of two million pounds under Section 10 of the NAO, 1999 for the offence under Section 9 (a)(v) and (xii) ibid, and to one year simple imprisonment for offence at Serial No 2 of the Schedule to the NAO, 1999, with stipulation that both sentences shall run concurrently.

Maryam, in her appeal, argued that the prosecution failed to furnish any oral account in support of its case, whereas, the entire documentary evidence produced by it was inadmissible for want of formal proof or being attestation of copies or being photocopies.

She added that the AC judge convicted them under section 9(a)(v) of the NAO, 1999.

The conviction is based on the testimony of JIT head Wajid Zia, who was an investigation officer of the case and did not have any personal knowledge, regarding the facts deposed by him, his deposition was both inadmissible and irrelevant, he was not competent to play proxy to any witness not produced nor could have he proved any document of which he was neither author nor privy.

The appellant adopted that the only evidence regarding beneficial ownership of the London apartments was a letter of financial investigation agency of British Virgin Island (FIA-BVI) that it wrote to Mossack Fonseca and received a reply in 2012.

However, the prosecution failed to adduce any evidence worth name to vouch safe the contents of the disputed letters.

Maryam said that this letter could not be treated as incriminating evidence.

Maryam also said in her appeal that the trial court has felt it convenient to seek aid of presumptions for passing the impugned judgment, which could not have been invoked without fulfilment of statutory requirements of requisite proof as to the necessary ingredients of the offence under Section 9(a)(v).

Therefore, it was prayed that this court may be pleased to set-aside the impugned judgment, conviction and sentence dated awarded to the appellants by the accountability court Islamabad and they may be acquitted of all the charges framed against them in the reference.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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