AC dismisses Nawaz’s plea for combined recording of Wajid Zia’s statement

The accountability court hearing corruption references against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family resumed its proceedings today.
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.
Judge Muhammad Bashir heard the Al-Azizia and Flagship supplementary references first, whereas the Avenfield properties supplementary reference was expected to be heard later in the day.
For the first two references, the court is recording the statements of three witnesses: Abdul Hanan, Rizwan Khan and Sunil Ijaz.
Ijaz, a bank employee, recorded his statement first after which he was cross-examined by Nawaz’s counsel. As the court reconvened after a recess, witness Hannan’s cross-examination by Nawaz’s counsel went under way.
Later, Nawaz exited the courtroom while the hearing was under way. The former premier, owing to the inclement weather, did not hold a media talk. During the hearing, Nawaz’s counsel also submitted a request to club the testimony of Wajid Zia for all three references. The judge reserved his verdict on the matter.
Zia, the head of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) that probed the Panama Papers case, appeared in court today and was to record his statement in the Avenfield reference, which was to be taken up after 2pm.
Announcing the order later today, the court dismissed Nawaz’s plea and ordered Zia to appear in court on March 8 and record his statement in the Avenfield case.
Moreover, the court adjourned until March 5 the hearing of the Flagship reference, when four witnesses have been summoned.
The hearing of the Al Azizia reference was adjourned until March 7, when six witnesses will appear in court to record their statements.
On Thursday (yesterday), statements of five witnesses were recorded in the Al Azizia and Flagship references.
The corruption cases
The corruption references, filed against the Sharif family, pertain to the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment, offshore companies including Flagship Investment Ltd, and Avenfield properties of London.
Nawaz and sons Hussain and Hasan are accused in all three references whereas his daughter Maryam and son-in-law MNA Capt (retd) Safdar are accused in the Avenfield reference only.
In the Al Azizia and Flagship supplementary references, submitted in court on February 14, NAB had included eight new witnesses, as well as new evidence, including details of offshore companies of Hasan and Hussain.
The two brothers, based abroad, have been absconding since the proceedings began last year and were declared proclaimed offenders by the court.