Anti-graft court to seek third extension in corruption references against Sharif family | Pakistan Today

Anti-graft court to seek third extension in corruption references against Sharif family

  • With some testimonies, final arguments yet to be recorded, court unlikely to wrap up case by June 9 deadline
  • Wajid Zia’s cross-examination in Al-Azizia reference adjourned till June 11
  • Nawaz’s counsel requests court to hear argument in all three references at once

ISLAMABAD: With the revised deadline to wrap up corruption references against the Sharif family and former finance minister Ishaq Dar set to expire on June 9, the accountability court on Monday decided to seek another extension from the Supreme Court (SC).

During Monday’s proceedings in the Al-Azizia reference, accountability judge Mohammad Bashir remarked that he would write a letter to the SC requesting another extension.

Nawaz and his family are facing three corruption cases in the Accountability Court-I after the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) filed references against them in light of the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Panama Papers case.

The trial against the Sharif family had commenced on September 14, 2017.

The corruption references, filed against the Sharifs, pertain to the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment, offshore companies including Flagship Investment Ltd, and Avenfield properties of London. When the SC-ascertained six-month deadline expired in March 2018, a two-month extension was granted.

The SC, on top of the first extension, had added another month to the deadline last month on the request of the accountability court.

With the revised June 9 deadline just around the corner, the court has so far only finished recording the testimonies of Nawaz, his daughter Maryam and his son-in-law Captain (r) Muhammad Safdar — all in the Avenfield property references.

Nawaz is due to appear in at least another round of accountability court appearances in which he will be called to record his statement in the Al-Azizia and Flagship Investment references.

The court is currently recording the testimony of Wajid Zia — the star prosecution witness in the Al-Azizia reference and the head of the joint investigation team (JIT) that probed the Panama Papers case.

After him, the prosecution will produce their final witness in Al-Azizia reference: an investigation official of the NAB.

At some point, Zia and the NAB officer in question will also have to testify in the Flagship reference, while recording of the final arguments in all three references is also on the agenda.

ZIA’S CROSS-EXAMINATION:

Meanwhile, the accountability court adjourned the cross-examination of Wajid Zia in Al-Azizia reference against the Sharif family till June 11.

Judge Muhammad Bashir while adjourning the cross-examination directed the prosecution to submit final arguments in London flats case by Tuesday.

During the hearing, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s legal counsel Khawaja Harris who has been cross-examining Zia requested the judge to hear arguments in all three references at once.

“Sixty per cent of the arguments are the same in the three references,” Harris said.

“We will file a petition tomorrow against your written order to announce a combined judgement,” he added.

However, deputy prosecutor of the NAB remarked, “We will conduct separate examinations on all three references.”

“The accused did not produce anything in his defence in the Avenfield reference,” he further said.

Further, during the hearing, Zia, who works as an additional director at the Federal Investigation Agency, remarked that the Share Sale Agreement 1980 of Gulf Steel Mills showed that Nawaz’s cousin Tariq Shafi and Muhammad Hussain were partners.

“However, Muhammad Hussain passed away before the agreement could be materialised,” he said, adding that there was also a letter with the agreement which was signed by the legal heirs of Muhammad Hussain.

“Tariq Shafi had told JIT that Muhammad Hussain’s legal heirs were alive and that they had come to Lahore to meet him. We even asked Shafiq for the address of Hussain’s son Shehzad Hussain. However, we weren’t able to contact him,” Zia added.

In an earlier hearing on Friday, Zia had said no evidence was found linking Nawaz Sharif to Hill Metal Establishment.

“Neither any witness claimed nor there is any document to show that Nawaz was involved in any way with Hill Metal Establishment,” Zia had said during his cross-examination as Judge Mohammad Bashir presided proceedings in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference.

On Thursday, Zia said he did not come across any document during the investigation which showed that Nawaz is the owner of Al-Azizia Steel Mills.



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