ISLAMABAD: The star witness against the daughter and the son-in-law of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the Avenfield Apartments reference Robert Radley has 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 his statement and cross-examination, according to a report by a private media outlet.
According to laws of England Wales, a forensic expert cannot meet the prosecutors for tutoring.
A forensic expert is bound by law to appear before a court to comment on his report and answer questions but holding meetings with prosecutors are illegal because it could involve tampering of evidence.
The Accountability Court recorded the evidence of the Radley and Akhtar Riaz Raja on whom the cross-examination was also completed at 10:30 pm in the night. Radley had completed his statement on Feb 22 and partial cross-examination. On Friday, the cross-examination completed on Akhtar Riaz Raja as well through a video link from Pakistan’s High Commission in London.
The two are national accountability bureau (NAB) prosecution witnesses in Avenfield apartment’s supplementary corruption reference. Statement and cross-examination of Akhtar Raja: Akhtar Riaz Raja of Quist Solicitors Law firm admitted before the Accountability Court (AC) that he is the first cousin of Wajid Zia. When Wajid Zia was appointed as head of the joint investigation team (JIT), he congratulated him on phone. Wajid Zia was his initial contact when his services for the forensic verification of the documents pertaining to Avenfield properties were hired through the six members JIT approved his nomination as a counsel.
Talking about the Jeremy Freeman’s letter dated January 5, 2017, Raja said that he wrote an email to him, but Jeremy didn’t reply and then I send a chaser through email and by hand as well at the given address. On June 29, 2017, I received a response from Jeremy. Freeman said that Hussain Nawaz attended his office with the original documents and with that the trust deed. Jeremy witnessed signatures of Hussain Nawaz and one Mr Waqar Ahmed. Freeman in his reply also confirmed that the contents of the letter dated January 5, 2017, were true, Raja said. Upon instruction by the JIT, I provided the documents for forensic verification to Mr Radley those were about Nelson, Nescol and Coomber companies.
Raja said that he also prepared a commentary about the Al-Towfeek case. At this the defense counsel objected and said that under no law a solicitor can write a commentary and this cannot be exhibited as a piece of evidence. Raja, however, said that he provided his commentary to the JIT upon their asking. My commentary refers to the JIT evidence that refers to a March 1999 judgement in Al-Twofeek case that was decided by the High Court of Justice Queen’s Bench Division in London where Shahbaz Sharif was among the defendants. March 1999 judgement was over $20million while a charging order nisi made on November 5, 1999. Raja said that his commentary was based on a May 2000 article that was published in daily Dawn and I duly mentioned that article. During cross-examination, Raja first said he was not part of NAB investigation but later admitted that he recorded his statement to a NAB investigation officer (IO)–Muhammad Imran. He didn’t disclosed that how much fee he was paid and said that it was privileged communication and under the same rule, Jeremy Freeman did not disclose that how much fee he was paid. To a question that under what law he was engaged as a solicitor, Raja said that it was under the rules of England and Wales. About Pakistani law, he said that the Pakistani Supreme Court had initiated action, and he was convinced that it was in line with Pakistani law as well.