Islamabad (November 14, 2018): Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday told an accountability court that he never admitted to owning Gulf, Al-Azizia and Dubai factories during a corruption hearing against him.
Accountability court judge Muhammad Arshad Malik resumed hearing the Al-Azizia corruption reference, filed by the National Accountability Bureau last year on Supreme Court orders.
Nawaz told the court that the Al-Azizia Steel Mills were constructed by his father and that he is not involved in any way with family businesses.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz supremo also reiterated that he has nothing to do with any agreements done by Gulf Steel Mills.He also maintained that his National Assembly speech, made in May 2016, be exempted under Article 66 of the Constitution from being used in court as evidence.
“I made the speech on the basis of some documents,” he said.
In total, Nawaz recorded responses to 44 of the 141 questions posed to him.
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As the hearing went underway, Judge Muhammad Arshad Malik summoned Nawaz on the rostrum where he asked the former premier if it was correct that he had held public offices. To this, Nawaz affirmed that it was indeed correct; he had served as prime minister three times, chief minister, finance minister and opposition leader.
Nawaz further said that he did not hold any public office from 1999 to 2013, and was in exile from 2000 to 2007.
Nawaz’s counsels objected to some questions listed on the questionnaire, as the former prime minister pointed out that some of the questions were based on rumours while a few others were ambiguous in nature.
After submitting his answers to 44 questions listed on the questionnaire, Nawaz requested the court to allow him to answer five other questions after consultation with his lawyers.
Defence lawyer Khawaja Haris cross-examined investigation officer Muhammad Kamran who said that call up notices had not been served to Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz (sons of Nawaz Sharif) on their foreign address.“Through the report of joint investigation team, I came to know that Hassan and Hussain Nawaz were non-residential citizens of Pakistan”, added Muhamamd Kamran.
The court adjourned the hearing until Thursday (tomorrow).
During a previous hearing of the reference on October 30th, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor Wasiq Malik had informed Judge Muhammad Arshad Malik that the watchdog had 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, he had told the court.
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 last month, after its deadline to conclude the trials against the Sharifs had ended on October 7.
It is worth mentioning here that the cases against Nawaz family stemmed from the Panama Papers leak that disclosed expensive and undeclared property allegedly owned by them in London. Former PM Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain Safdar were convicted and sentenced to prison for ten years, seven years and one year respectively in Avenfield verdict.
However, the convictions were suspended by Islamabad High Court and they were released from Adiala jail till final decision.
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.