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Tuesday Oct 30 2018

Court to record Nawaz’s statement in next Al-Azizia hearing

ISLAMABAD: The accountability court hearing the Al-Azizia corruption reference against Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday ordered the prosecution to record the former prime minister’s statement during the next hearing.

National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor Wasiq Malik informed Judge Muhammad Arshad Malik that the watchdog has completed presenting its evidence against the accused in the reference.

A total of 22 witnesses were produced before the accountability court since October last year, following Nawaz’s indictment in the Al-Azizia/Hill Metal Establishment reference.

Copies of the Supreme Court’s verdicts dated April 20 and July 28 have also been submitted in the court, the prosecutor informed.

Khawaja Haris, Nawaz’s lead defence counsel, objected to the prosecutor’s remarks stating that the April 20 verdict was not related to Al-Azizia reference. An older verdict was no longer relevant after another verdict was announced by the apex court, he contended.

The accountability court also heard the Flagship Investment reference against Nawaz today, where Khawaja Haris continued cross-examination of JIT head Wajid Zia. The hearing was adjourned till tomorrow. 

It is worth noting that the accountability court has until November 17 to wrap up the remaining two corruption references – Al-Azizia and Flagship Investments – against the Sharif family. The Supreme Court had granted final extension to the court earlier this month, after its deadline to conclude the trials against the Sharifs had ended on October 7.

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.