ISLAMABAD -  An accountability court in Islamabad on Friday set aside the objections of defence counsels representing former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar and allowed NAB prosecutors to record statements of prosecution witnesses through video-link in the Avenfield properties reference.

At the outset of the proceedings, the defence counsels moved applications seeking an exemption for the personal appearance of Sharif and Maryam Nawaz in the court and submitted that at the next hearing both would show up the court. Capt (retd) Safdar was present in the court, however.

NAB Prosecutor Sardar Mazhar Abbassi giving arguments in support of deposing of witnesses in the supplementary reference in Avenfield through video-link as witnesses Robert Radley and Akhtar Raja were not ready to come to Pakistan due to security reasons.

He said that the provision of recording statements of witnesses was already there and cited a couple of examples like the recording of statement of Mark Seigal in the Benazir Bhutto murder case through video-link and also referred to some cases of India where the recording of statements through video-link were accepted. He said that in a Maharashtra State versus Dr Parfel B case the statements through video-link were accepted.

Trial Court Judge Mohammad Bashir sought an explanation from NAB prosecutor stating that “first you would present the CD of the statement of the witnesses and then again frame questions and seek explanation on it from the witnesses.” The NAB prosecutor explained that both the witnesses were available for recording their statements on February 6 and 7 through video-link.

Amjid Pervaiz, counsel for Maryam Nawaz, objected to the point and said that they were not sitting here to wait for a recording of the statements of these witnesses at their convenience.

He further said that prosecution witness Robert Radley had also given declaration at the time of becoming prosecution witness and admitted that he might have to appear before the court and now why he was reluctant to come and depose before the court.

He questioned that when the services of Robert Radley were hired, there might be some terms and conditions for it, so now the prosecution must bring him here for the recording of his statement.

The court reserved judgment on the matter for a brief time and then allowed the prosecution to record the statements of Robert Radley and Akhtar Raja through video-link and the date for recording of their statements would be decided on February 6 when the court would take up the case again.