–CJP says won’t give more time to accountability court, as former PM challenges JIT’s report’s admissibility as evidence
–Nawaz says sons Hassan and Hussain setup business abroad after being ‘thrown out of country’
–NAB prosecutor says case is about how Hassan and Hussain Nawaz started their business
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) has granted a further three-week extension to the accountability court hearing the Al-Azizia and Flagship references against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to wrap up the cases, as the latter claimed on Monday that the Panamagate Joint Investigation Team’s (JIT) probe against him was biased and politically motivated.
Responding to Accountability Judge Arshad Malik’s request for more time to conclude the anti-graft trials against the former premier, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar said that this will be the final extension for the trials, and no more time will be given afterwards.
Earlier on Friday, the accountability judge had written a letter to the top court seeking an extension to conclude the trials.
The letter stated that Nawaz is recording his statements in the Al-Azizia reference.
The apex court had previously granted six extensions to the accountability court to conclude the trials.
In October, the apex court had ordered the accountability court to finalise both references by Nov 17, adding that it will be the ‘final’ extension and the court will be held accountable if the trial is not concluded by then.
‘JIT PROBE INCONCLUSIVE’:
Meanwhile, while recording his statement in the Al-Azizia corruption reference in the court of Judge Malik on Monday, Nawaz Sharif claimed that the JIT’s investigation against him could not be used in court because it was “inconclusive and biased”.
The former PM has to answer 151 questions of which he has recorded his statements in 147, while he is expected to record the answers of the remaining questions on Thursday.
While recording his statement, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo stated that he didn’t fight his sons Hassan and Hussain Nawaz’s case in the Supreme Court, and that their statements cannot be used against him without any evidence.
“The statements recorded by JIT have no legal standing,” Nawaz stated.
The former premier got emotional while recording his statement and addressing Judge Arshad Malik directly, stated that he had no idea why this case was even initiated in the first place, adding that “the prosecution would not know as well why this case was initiated.”
Continuing his tirade, Nawaz said, “People worldwide study and conduct businesses abroad, how is it a miracle if my children sent money abroad?
“My children would have been accused had they had businesses in Pakistan and even now when they have businesses abroad they are being accused.”
Nawaz went on to add that, “It’s a good thing my children conducted business abroad, I was in politics hence didn’t have the time to pay attention to it.”
The NAB prosecutor responded to Nawaz saying that “the case is not about you owning business abroad, rather how you did business abroad”. To which, Nawaz replied that if the government hadn’t forced his family out his children would have setup their businesses in Pakistan.
“We were forced to leave in 1971, then again in 1999, even though I wasn’t in politics in 1971,” the former premier added.
“We didn’t leave the country out of our own will if my children didn’t go out would they have spent their entire life begging?”
There is no evidence of corruption and receiving kickback against us, Nawaz maintained.
“A plea had been submitted in the Supreme Court (SC) to reject this so-called evidence presented by the JIT,” he said, adding that the JIT is a “mere investigative body” that holds no authority and lacks credibility.
Earlier on Friday, Nawaz had 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 top 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 had admitted that he received money from outside the country but added that 77 per cent of it was gifted to his daughter, Maryam Nawaz.