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AC Adjourns Hearing Of Al-Azizia Steel Mills Reference

Islamabad(July 03, 2018): The accountability court conducting corruption proceedings against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family resumed hearing the Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference on Tuesday.

As the proceedings began, Nawaz’s defence counsel Khawaja Haris began cross-examining NAB’s star witness and Panama case Joint Investigation Team head Wajid Zia, who had been summoned by the court at the June 29 hearing of the Avenfield properties reference.

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The NAB prosecutor objected to Haris’ questioning, asking why cross-examining was being carried out over those documents that were not part of the case record.

Haris contended that Zia, in his testimony, made them “hear such a long story” and now he (Haris) is being asked not to ask questions.

The hearing was later adjourned until tomorrow when the cross-examination will resume.

Earlier, Joint Investigation Team (JIT) head and prosecution’s main witness Wajid Zia said he did not come across any document during the investigation which showed that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is the owner of Al-Azizia Steel Mills.

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As per the bank statement, Nawaz’s son Hussain Nawaz sent him an amount worth US$1.1 million as a ‘gift’ from July 5, 2010, to June 30, 2011. “It is true that the dollars sent to Nawaz were a gift from his son,” Zia remarked.

Nawaz should have declared the amount in the wealth statement for 2010-2011, Zia added.

The National Accountability Bureau prosecutor Wasiq Malik remarked that there is no need to compare the bank statement with tax record, adding “our case is different”.Zia, who is appearing before the court of accountability judge Muhammad Bashir, has already recorded his statement in both Avenfield and Al-Azizia references against the Sharif family.

Earlier, the prosecution’s star witness in the Al Azizia reference, Wajid Zia, completed recording his statement in the accountability court.

Zia, a Federal Investigation Agency additional director, headed the Panama case Joint Investigation Team (JIT) that probed the Sharif family’s assets last year.He has already testified in the Avenfield properties reference.

Background Of The Cases:

The trial against the Sharif family commenced on September 14, 2017, with a six-month deadline.

The corruption references, filed against the Sharifs, pertain to the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment, offshore companies including Flagship Investment Ltd, and Avenfield properties of London.NAB had earlier filed interim references in all three cases and later added supplementary references to them with new evidence and witnesses.

Nawaz and sons Hussain and Hasan are accused in all three references whereas his daughter Maryam and son-in-law 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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