ISLAMABAD: The star witness against the daughter and the son-in-law of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the Avenfield Apartments reference told the accountability court on Thursday that the Calibri font existed when the trust deed of the property was prepared.
But the font was not commercially available before January 2007 and the trust deed was prepared in February 2006 hence it was fabricated, said forensic expert Robert M. Radley while testifying from the Pakistani High Commission in London via video link.
Mr Radley had identified the use of Calibri font in the document of the trust deed of the property during the investigation carried out by the Joint Investigation Team in the Panama Papers case.
During the seven-hour proceeding of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB)’s supplementary reference on Avenfield Apartments against the Sharif family, Mr Radley said that he was taking help from the notes he had prepared for today’s statement and cross-questioning.
Admits to accountability court hearing Avenfield Apartments case he had a meeting with NAB officials a day earlier
He admitted that he along with another witness, Akhtar Raja of the Quist Solicitors, had held a meeting with NAB Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi, Director Investigation Amjad Nazir Olakh and another official on Wednesday and they had discussed the notes for today’s statement and cross-examination.
Mr Radley admitted during cross-examination that the Calibri font existed since April 2005 in a beta version of Windows Vista.
Khawaja Haris, the counsel for Nawaz Sharif, during the course of cross-examination asked Mr Radley if he was answering questions about Calibri font by looking at the notes. The witness answered in the affirmative and said that the notes were prepared for cross-examination and he had discussed the notes with the NAB officials for over two hours on Wednesday.
At this Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi, head of the NAB’s prosecution team sitting with the witness in the Pakistani High Commission in London as an observer, objected to the question about Mr Radley’s meeting with NAB officials, saying he was present as an observer in compliance with an order of the Islamabad High Court and it should not be seen otherwise.
“Yesterday’s meeting must have also been convened in compliance with the court’s order,” Mr Haris responded to the objection sarcastically.
During the cross-examination, Mr Radley also admitted that he had not read the entire trust deed and that his focus was some selected paragraphs.
The accountability court also took up the two supplementary references NAB filed last week. The counsel for the Sharif family, Ayesha Hamid, raised objections to the filing of supplementary references pertaining to Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Flagship investments.
Ms Hamid argued that the references were not in line with the directives contained in the Supreme Court’s verdict.
The apex court in its July 28 judgement had said that supplementary references could be filed if new assets were discovered, she said. But the supplementary references were based on old information about the companies owned by a son of Nawaz Sharif.
As per United Kingdom law anyone could obtain information by filling out a simple form, she said. These companies were in the public domain at the time when the JIT was conducting an investigation into Panama Papers case.
Ms Hamid said that under the Supreme Court’s directives trial court had to decide this case within six months but with the supplementary references the NAB was trying to linger on with this matter.
Special Prosecutor of the NAB Imran Shafique, countering Ms Hamid’s arguments, said that no extraordinary time would be consumed. “We will produce three prosecution witnesses in next hearing and 17 more in the following hearing,” he said.
Ms Hamid said that they could not cross examine 17 witnesses in a hearing as they would have to make preparations. In a sarcastic tone, she said, “we are not NAB” at which there was laughter in the courtroom.
She requested the court to write an application to the supervisory judge seeking more time to complete the trial.
The accountability court then reserved its order in this matter.
Earlier, Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz filed an application seeking exemption from personal appearance when the court would record statements of Mr Radley and Mr Raja at 1:30pm.
The court will hold further hearing in this matter on Friday (today) and resume hearing of the main corruption references on March 1.
Published in Dawn, February 23rd, 2018