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AC Resumes Flagship, Al-Azizia References’ Hearing

Islamabad (October 17, 2018): Accountability Court on Wednesday has resumed corruption references hearing against former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif.

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is present in the courtroom.

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Panama JIT’s Chief Wajid Zia is recording his statement in the court of Judge Arshad Malik.

Earlier on October 16, Wajid Zia submitted documents gathered by the Panamagate joint investigation team (JIT) as evidence in the Flagship Investments corruption reference against former premier Nawaz Sharif.Zia, who was the head of the Panamagate JIT, appeared before an accountability court today to continue recording his testimony in the case. He submitted the financial statements of Flagship Investments dating from 2002 to 2016.

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He also presented letters from Qatari royal Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jaber Al-Thani which, he claimed, were sent to the JIT by Director of the Foreign Secretary’s Office Afaq Ahmed. The letter also held the Qatari prince’s seal.

Sharif’s counsel, Khawaja Haris, objected to the submission of the letter and said that Ahmed had appeared before the court but had not submitted the letter.During the hearing, Accountability Judge Arshad Malik said that Zia should make a list of the documents that he wished to submit in court as evidence and give it to Haris in a portable hard drive so that Sharif’s counsel could note its objections and submit them in court, saving time.Haris said Zia could give him the list on Wednesday (today).

Earlier on October 15, an accountability court started hearing the Flagship reference against Nawaz Sharif with a key prosecution witness, former head of the JIT Wajid Zia, recording his statement here just after the reference in connection with Al Azizia steel mill was taken up.

Deposing in the case, Wajid Zia pointed out that the Supreme Court had ordered the formation of a JIT in its April 20 judgment.

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“My name was included by FIA. SC announced names of JIT members on May 5, 2017.

SC then asked JIT to find answers of some questions. The questions were: How was the Gulf Steel mill established? How it was sold? What happened to its dues? Were letters sent by a Qatari royal figure fictitious or authentic?

The apex court also tasked the JIT to find in-depth information on Avenfield apartments. The Hill Metal company, founded by Hussain Nawaz, was also to be investigated. SC had also asked the JIT to probe investment in the Flagship company. The JIT was also tasked to find the source of funds for (setting up) Flagship investment and other companies.

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It was also to determine the real owner of these companies, besides finding out if Hasan and Hussain Nawaz were acting on behalf of their father as benami owner. JIT then asked the SC to empower it to write letters of mutual legal assistance. The ministry of law and justice had given JIT authority under Section 21 of the NAB Ordinance. JIT had sent letters of mutual legal assistance on Flagship reference to the UAE and UK. JIT received a reply in response to its request for assistance from the UAE.

Earlier on October 12, Accountability Court adjourned the hearing of Al Azizia and Flagship References against former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif till October 15.

Judge Arshad Malik resumed the hearing of the references, filed on the directions of Supreme Court.

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Counsel of Nawaz Sharif, Khawaja Haris and NAB Prosecutor, Muzaffar Abbasi failed to appear before the court due to engagements in the apex court.JIT Chief, Waji Zia was summoned today to record his statement in Flagship Investment.

Nawaz Sharif also appeared before the court.

Earlier on October 11, NAB court granted one-day exemption from the court appearance to former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif in Al Azizia Reference.

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During the proceedings, the NAB prosecutor prayed the court to fix a date for recording statement of Nawaz Sharif.  Khawaja Haris, however, the counsel of former Prime Minister opposed the NAB prosecutor’s plea.

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Haris said, why NAB wants to record statement in Al Azizia earlier, from the first day we are appealing for the joint verdict in both Al Azizia and Flagship refernece, Haris added.

Earlier on October 10, NAB Court adjourned the hearing of  Al Azizia Steel Mills reference against former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, soon after Khawaja Haris completed cross-examination of NAB’s last witness Mehboob Alam.

Nawaz Sharif appeared before the court of Judge, Arshad Malik, cross-examination of Mehboob Alam continued on the last 10 hearings of the case.

After the adjournment of the reference, Nawaz Sharif left the court.

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Background

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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