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ISLAMABAD: The defence counsel in the Avenfield properties reference claimed before the accountability court on Thursday that it was a “case of no evidence” as per various judgements of the Supreme Court.

Advocate Amjad Pervez, the counsel for Maryam Nawaz and her husband retired Captain Mohammad Safdar, in his final arguments in the Avenfield reference said that a plethora of verdicts of the superior judiciary had declared that weak evidence was in fact no evidence at all. He explained that a case could be treated as a case of no evidence if evidence when reconciled supported hypothesis of innocence of the accused.

The counsel argued that the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) which probed corruption allegations in the Panama Papers case had misled the Supreme Court and the accountability court, adding that the JIT had requested the apex court to withhold volume-10 of the JIT report containing mutual legal assistance requests on the grounds that prejudice would be caused to the ongoing investigation.

Citing a legal precedence, Advocate Pervez said a case could not move forward when the prosecution didn’t discharge its function by proving charges beyond reasonable shadow of doubt.

He also drew accountability judge Mohammad Bashir’s attention to the fact that the investigation officer as well as the National Accountability Bureau cha­ir­man thrice informed the court that a supplementary reference would be filed after obtaining new evidence, but later they sought the court’s permission to file additional documents when received from authorities in the United Kingdom.

The counsel will continue his arguments on Friday (today).

Meanwhile, the accountability court exempted the Sharif family from personal appearance for Thursday only. It observed that medical report of Kulsoom Nawaz was old and asked for a recent one.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam had sought seven days’ exemption from personal appearance since they are in London looking after ailing Kulsoom Nawaz whose condition is stated to be critical.

Judge Mohammad Bashir had earlier rejected several applications of Mr Sharif and Maryam seeking exemption from personal appearance as NAB was strongly opposing the request fearing that both the father and daughter might abscond.

However, when they left the country just before Eidul Fitr and were on their way to London, the former first lady suffered a cardiac arrest and was shifted to the intensive care unit and placed on a ventilator. She is still on ventilator.

Published in Dawn, June 29th, 2018