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Wednesday Mar 14 2018

Court hears Flagship, Al-Azizia references against Nawaz

Nawaz Sharif arriving in court earlier today. Photo: Geo News 

ISLAMABAD: The accountability court conducting corruption proceedings against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif resumed hearing the Flagship and Al-Azizia references today. 

The former premier arrived at the Federal Judicial Complex where the courtroom is situated. 

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had filed three interim corruption references against the Sharif family in September last year in light of the Supreme Court's July 28 verdict in the Panama Papers case. The bureau recently filed supplementary references in all three cases as well.

Five witnesses had been summoned today to record their statements. 

As the hearing went under way, prosecution witness Noreen Shahzadi, who is an employee of a private bank, recorded her statement and submitted details of Nawaz and his sons' bank accounts. 

Judge Mohammad Bashir observed that the worksheet of Nawaz's son Hussain's bank account is unreadable and directed the witness to submit a better copy. 

Nawaz's counsel Khawaja Harris voiced the same objection and said that the documents are either illigible or photo copies. No original document were submitted, Harris said.

Later, two more witnesses, NAB assistant director Waqar Ahmed and financial expert Sher Khan recorded their statements. 

The court also ordered Federal Investigation Agency Additional Director Wajid Zia, who headed the Panama joint investigation team, to appear before it in the next hearing. 

The hearing was adjourned until March 21.

Caretaker govt cannot go beyond Constitution: Nawaz

Talking to journalists present in the courtroom before the hearing began, Nawaz said, "those from Bani Gala and Karachi both bowed down in Sanjrani’s court". He was referring to the Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's support for Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani who recently won the Senate election. 

In response to a question, Nawaz said a caretaker government cannot work beyond the Constitution. 

Later, Nawaz exited the courtroom while the hearing is under way. 

The corruption cases

The corruption references, filed against the Sharif family, pertain to the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment, offshore companies including Flagship Investment Ltd, and Avenfield properties of London.

Nawaz and sons Hussain and Hasan are accused in all three references whereas his daughter Maryam and son-in-law MNA Capt (retd) Safdar are 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. 


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