A two-member bench of Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday upheld the decision of an accountability court to record the statements of two UK-based witnesses via video link in the Avenfield properties reference against the Sharif family. However, it mandated that the testimonies be recorded in the presence of Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and her husband, retired Captain Muhammad Safdar.
The court was hearing an appeal filed by Amjad Pervez, the counsel for Maryam Nawaz and her husband, against the accountability court’s decision.
Last week, the two UK-based prosecution witnesses had been allowed to testify through a video link after they cited security concerns in visiting Pakistan.
Pervez’s petition, submitted on Wednesday, had sought the annulment of the decision to allow witnesses to testify via video link. The federation, National Accountability Board (NAB) chairman and Accountability Court Judge Mohammad Bashir — who passed the decision — were made party to the case in the petition.
Pervez argued that the accountability court had accepted a request forwarded by NAB — the prosecution — to record the statements through video link even though his client had reservations over the matter.
He argued that if the accountability court’s decision was upheld by the high court, it must be ensured that the statements of the witnesses are recorded in the presence of his client. The counsel for Nawaz Sharif, Saad Hashmi, also adopted Pervez’s arguments.
NAB Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi, however, had argued against, saying that the appellants were only trying to prolong the trial by bringing the matter to the IHC. He claimed that Maryam and her family had not raised any objection in the accountability court.
Justice Athar Minallah observed that a fair trial is the suspect’s right and added that the court must make sure that the requirements of a fair trial are being observed.
Correction: The headline of this article had initially suggested that the petition had been rejected outright. The error is regretted.