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Thursday Sep 06 2018

Al-Azizia reference: Defence, prosecution get into heated debate

Police personnel stand outside the Accountability Court premises in Islamabad. Photo: Geo News file 

ISLAMABAD: Accountability Court II resumed hearing the Al-Azizia corruption reference against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday. 

The defence lawyer, Khawaja Haris, continued cross-examining the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) witness Wajid Zia — who also headed the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) that probed the Panama Papers case. 

Accountability Court II Judge Arshad Malik presided over the case. 

Nawaz was earlier exempted from appearing before the court for the hearing. The incarcerated former premier meets close family members and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders in the jail on Thursdays.     

As the hearing went under way, Zia apprised the court that the report under question was made on the basis of the financial statements that were not audited by Aldar Audit Bureau. "The JIT did not contact any officer of the Aldar Audit Bureau to obtain financial statements," he said. 

"The Aldar audit report for Nawaz Sharif's son Hussain is from 2010-2014. Contact details of the person who has prepared the report are present in the document," Zia told the court.   

Haris then questioned Zia about the date when Hill Metal Establishment became operational. In response, the latter said he could only answer the question after looking at the record. 

The judge then announced a short recess. 

After the hearing was resumed, the defence lawyer continued to cross-question the prosecution witness regarding the Hill Metal Establishment. 

NAB prosecutor, Haris get into heated debate

During the proceedings, the NAB Prosecutor Wasiq Malik and Haris got into a heated debate.

After the defence lawyer stopped Malik from interrupting, the NAB prosecutor responded by saying that he and his witness were talking to each other and not Haris.  

Judge Malik then remarked that the prosecutor and his witness should step back when speaking to one another. 

The reference was then adjourned till September 6.

The trial

The trial against the Sharif family 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 Hasan, 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.

On July 10, the Supreme Court granted another six-week extension for Accountability Court-I Judge Mohammad Bashir to conclude the remaining corruption references against Nawaz and former finance minister Ishaq Dar.


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