Wednesday, October 04, 2017
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Witness records statements in assets reference case against Ishaq Dar

ISLAMABAD: The accountability court hearing the Supreme Court-directed corruption reference against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar recorded the statement of a prosecution witness today. 

The finance minister was late to court today. As a result, the judge temporarily suspended the hearing until the accused showed up. 

As Dar reached the court, the hearing went under way. 

At the last hearing, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had submitted a list of 28 witnesses. 

Today, NAB produced two witnesses: Ishtiaq Ali of Bank Alfalah and senior vice-president of Al Baraka bank, Tariq Javed. 

Only Ali recorded his statement with the court and was then cross-examined by Dar's counsel, Advocate Amjad Pervez. Dar's counsel also objected to the documents presented by NAB, saying they are mere photocopies and not verified documents. 

The hearing was then adjourned until October 12, when one new witness — Shahid Aziz — along with Javed, who appeared today as well, have been summoned. 

Compared to October 2, when the Rangers had taken over security of the judicial complex and disallowed everyone, even the interior minister, to enter the premises to attend the hearing of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, the police had complete control of the complex today and the paramilitary force was nowhere to be seen. 

Eight journalists were allowed to cover today's courtroom proceedings after a delegation of reporters reached an understanding with the court's registrar. 

Dar was indicted last Wednesday by Accountability Court-I Judge Mohammad Bashir.

Dar has denied all charges and vowed to prove his innocence in court. 

He had also challenged his indictment and trial in the Islamabad High Court but the pleas were dismissed. 

The references

The corruption reference, pertaining to Dar's owning assets that are disproportionate to his known sources of income, was filed by NAB in light of the Supreme Court's July 28 judgment in the Panama Papers case.

After skipping his first hearing on September 20, for which a summons had been issued, Dar appeared in court on September 25 after bailable warrants for his arrest had been issued to ensure his presence.

Editors note: An earlier version of this report misstated the number of witnesses who recorded their statement as well as the name of a witness.