–Former PM tells anti-graft court his sons’ statements cannot be used as evidence against him
–Says JIT deliberately avoided recording Qatari prince’s statement by imposing hard conditions on him
–Court writes to SC for extension in Al-Azizia and Flagship trials
ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday distanced himself from the ownership of Al-Azizia Steel Mills, a day after he refused to own up the Qatari letters that were submitted to the Supreme Court in his favour during the hearing of the Panama Papers case.
Recording his statement before the accountability court hearing the Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference, Nawaz admitted that he received money from outside the country but added that 77 per cent of it was gifted to his daughter, Maryam Nawaz.
The comments were made as the former premier answered 120 of the 151 questions for the third consecutive day.
“I have never claimed to own Al-Azizia. I have always said I had nothing to do with the [mills],” he said.
He claimed that his tax returns document the money he had received from abroad, adding that it was his right to use them as he wished.
Nawaz reiterated that he never personally relied on Qatari Prince Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jaber Al-Thani’s letters in front of the Supreme Court, adding that the letters show the royal family was willing to cooperate with the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) investigating the matter.
“The JIT kept unnecessarily strict conditions for recording their [Qataris’] statements. It seemed from the JIT’s ways that it did not want to record the prince’s statement,” said the former premier.
“They were not presented before this court, nor are they being tried with me,” he said in reference to the statements recorded by his sons Hasan and Hussain to the JIT.
“Their interviews can’t be presented as evidence against me. During investigation, no one’s statements serve as acceptable evidence,” he said.
Hearing of the case was later adjourned till Monday.
On Wednesday, Nawaz Sharif refused to answer the court’s queries concerning the tax returns and wealth statements of his sons, Hasan and Hussain, saying the matter didn’t come within his purview.
“I cannot answer questions regarding the income tax returns and wealth statements of Hassan and Hussain Nawaz. It is not within my purview,” he informed the court.
“I have shown all my income tax returns, my assets and my sources of income. It is true that the financial documents, including tax records, wealth statements and wealth tax returns, are all my own,” he added.
COURT SEEKS EXTENSION:
Earlier on Friday, the accountability court wrote a letter to the Supreme Court seeking an extension to conclude the Al-Azizia and Flagship corruption references against Nawaz Sharif.
“The trial against Nawaz Sharif in Al-Azizia and Flagship Investment references is near conclusion. It is not possible to complete the trial by the deadline given by the Supreme Court thus more time should be given,” Accountability Judge Arshad Malik wrote in the letter.
The letter added that Nawaz is recording his statements in the Al-Azizia reference.
The apex court has previously granted six extensions to the accountability court to conclude the trial.
Last month, the Supreme Court ordered the accountability court to finalise both references by Nov 17.
The trial against the Sharifs commenced on September 14, 2017.
On July 6, after four extensions in the original six-month deadline to conclude all three cases, the court announced its verdict in the Avenfield reference.
Nawaz and his sons, Hussain and Hassan, are accused in all three references whereas Maryam and Safdar were accused in the Avenfield reference only.
The two brothers, based abroad, have been absconding since the proceedings began last year and were declared proclaimed offenders by the court.