–Nawaz’s lawyer had asked Wajid Zia if JIT report’s Volume 10 was sealed in presence of SC registrar
ISLAMABAD: National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Prosecutor Wasiq Malik on Monday objected to questions regarding the Volume 10 of the Joint Investigation Team’s (JIT) report on the Panama Papers case.
The objection was raised during the hearing of the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif at Accountability Court II, where defence counsel Khawaja Haris continued the cross-examination of NAB’s star witness, Wajid Zia.
During the proceedings, NAB prosecutor Malik raised objections to a question regarding Volume 10 of the JIT report.
Nawaz’s counsel asked Zia if the JIT report’s Volume 10 was “sealed in presence of the Supreme Court registrar”.
The JIT team that probed Panama Papers case was headed by Zia. He stated that he “did not remember the sealing of the report as it was submitted last year,” adding that it was sealed in his presence. However, the witness said, “I am not sure if the records were sealed before being taken to the Supreme Court,” adding that “the court order sheets did not show that Volume 10 was submitted to the apex court on July 10”.
Wasiq Malik added that the SC received the report in a “sealed package” and further requested the court to not allow Haris to further question the witness regarding the records.
Malik said, “The question on Volume 10 being present in a sealed package cannot be argued during the cross-examination. Another petition should be filed in this regard.”
The NAB prosecutor also said, “If Nawaz’s counsel has any issues pertaining to Volume 10, he could have written to the court instead of probing Zia regarding the documents.”
Haris asked for the SC’s order on Volume 10 being sealed and not made public, adding that the NAB witness had said that “the records contained letters about mutual legal assistance (MLA)” during the cross-examination. He further said that the question is justified as the matter came up during the cross-examination.
Over this, NAB prosecutor said, “MLA and SC’s order are two different matters and cannot be argued during the hearing.”
The hearing was later adjourned till September 18.
The trial against the Sharif family commenced in September 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.
An accountability court had sentenced Nawaz to a total of 11 years in prison and slapped a £8 million fine (Rs1.3 billion) in the corruption reference while his daughter Maryam was sentenced to eight years with a £2 million fine (Rs335 million). Additionally, Nawaz’s son-in-law Capt (r) Safdar was given a one-year sentence without any fine.
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.
On September 1, NAB challenged an IHC judgment, allowing two of its references against deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif to be transferred to another accountability court.
NAB had filed three references against members of the Sharif family in line with the Supreme Court’s order of July 28 last year.