–Judge Bashir says all evidence submitted by former JIT head will be made part of case record
–Says Zia cannot comment on whether accused persons are guilty or not, court to take decision independently
–Nawaz Sharif says he’s well within constitutional right to criticise court judgements
ISLAMABAD: The accountability judge hearing the corruption cases against deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family on Wednesday ruled that Wajid Zia, head of the Panama Papers Joint Investigation Team (JIT), will record his statement in the Avenfield properties case and all evidence submitted by him will be made part of the case’s record.
Nawaz Sharif had petitioned the court on March 20 to seek clarity on the ‘evidence’ Zia intended to submit in court in the Avenfield properties reference.
The court noted that the defence lawyer could raise objections, as was his right, however a decision on those objections would be made later. The judge remarked that the former JIT head could not comment on whether the defendant was guilty or not and the court would form its own opinion, which would not depend on Zia’s opinion.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Wajid Zia had recorded his statement and had submitted several documents to court including, the Iqama of Nawaz, flow charts of the offshore companies owned by the Sharif family, transaction statements of numerous companies, the trust deeds of Nielsen, Nescol and Coomber Group, the reply of UAE embassy and Robert Redly’s forensic report on Calibri font. Nawaz’s counsel had objected to several of the documents submitted by Zia and sought clarity on the nature of documents, claiming that Zia could not submit certain sections of the JIT report as they are either irrelevant to the case or contained analysis and opinion.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had filed three interim corruption references against the Sharif family in September last year in light of the Supreme Court’s July 28 verdict in the Panama Papers case. The bureau recently filed supplementary references in all three cases as well.
Earlier in the day, the judge adjourned the hearing into the Al-Azizia and Flagship references till March 29, as primary witness Wajid Zia did not appear in court to record his statement.
Nawaz had earlier reached the accountability court from Murree to attend the hearing along with his daughter Maryam and son-in-law MNA Capt (r) Safdar.
During the hearing, Nawaz’s counsel Khawaja Haris completed the cross-examination of prosecution witness Noreen Shahzadi, who had recorded her statement at the last hearing.
At the last hearing, Shahzadi had submitted the documents related to Sharif family’s bank accounts.
She had also presented details of bank accounts held by Nawaz Sharif, Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz.
Nawaz’s lawyer Khawaja Harris had raised objection over the documents provided by the witness. Judge Bashir remarked that the bank accounts of Hussain were illegible, directing the witness to submit a better copy of her documents.
Later on, Harris had cross-examined the witness. NAB assistant director Waqar Ahmed and private bank employee Sher Khan also appeared before the court as witnesses to record their statements.
‘LACK LAW DICTIONARY’:
Informally talking to media persons at the accountability court, Nawaz Sharif said that the decision against him was announced after consulting the ‘black law dictionary’.
He said that cases are being registered against those who were hurling allegations against others. Awami Muslim League (AML) Chief Shaikh Rasheed hid assets worth billions of rupees, he added.
He said that he respects state institutions but it’s his and his party’s right to express reservations against any verdict. The former PM stressed that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan had himself declared Panama verdict as a weak decision by the SC.
“Now voices from inside and outside the court are being raised against Panama verdict as on Tuesday, the respected judge had remarked that the case was on Panama papers and decision was announced over Iqama.”
“I am not a person who disrespects institution but there can be discussion over weak verdicts,” he suggested.
He further said that some cases of similar nature ended in favouritism, as the PTI chief was declared ‘Sadiq and Ameen’ despite his confession.
He continued that PTI leader Jahangir Tareen was disqualified but neither NAB reference was registered nor any JIT formed to probe which depicted the double standard of justice.
“Where should I file a petition regarding insult to the nation?” Nawaz Sharif asked.
“In my case, requirements of justice were not fulfilled as respected judges disqualified me then formed reference and appointed a monitoring judge by themselves,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, Maryam Nawaz said that injustice had been done with the elected prime minister but Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) did not want any injustice to happen with its rivals.
Addressing the media, she said that many people were affected by the decision of the Panama Papers case. “The whole nation saw that the disqualification took place on the basis of iqama in Panama Papers case,” she said.