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January 17, 2018

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References against Sharifs: Two more prosecution witnesses record statements

ISLAMABAD: The Accountability Court of Islamabad recorded the statements of two prosecution witnesses against the Sharif family.

The trial court proceedings in the three corruption references Flagship, Al-Azizia and Avenfield apartments against Sharif family are nearing completion. Head of the NAB prosecution team Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi told this correspondent that the prosecution has almost done 80 percent work. Only two prosecution witnesses were left each in Flagship and Avenfield apartments corruption references.

Those included the JIT head Wajid Zia and investigation officers of the two cases. In Al-Azizia reference only five prosecution witnesses remained out of which three would be recording their statements on the next date of hearing on January 23.

The statement of Afaq Ahmed, a senior director at the office of Foreign Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs could not be recorded due to nonavailability of the certified documents pertaining to him.

The documents pertaining to Afaq Ahmed were in the custody of the Panama Papers Joint Investigation Team (JIT). Later, the JIT handed them over to the Supreme Court. Afaq Ahmed on May 30, 2017 received a sealed envelope from Pakistan's Embassy in Doha that was despatched to JIT head Wajid Zia.

The sealed envelope was sent by Qatari Prince Hammad bin Jasim. Afaq Ahmed handed over that envelope to Wajid Zia who also recorded his statement before the JIT. In the last hearing on December 19, when Afaq Ahmed came to record his statement in the Flagship corruption reference, the legal counsel for Nawaz Sharif, Khawaja Haris Ahmed raised objection that the statement could not be recorded in the absence of either the original documents or photocopies endorsed and certified by the court to be true. The NAB prosecutors had then said that they had applied for the JIT's original record, from the Supreme Court but they had not received it by then.

During today's hearing, the statement of Afaq Ahmed could not be recorded once again due to the same reason, at which the Accountability Court said it would write to the registrar Supreme Court of Pakistan asking him to provide either the original or the certified copies of the JIT record.

At the start of proceedings, NAB Additional Director Nasir Junejo recorded his statement as prosecution witness in Al-Azizia corruption reference. He told the court that the record of Chaudhry Sugar Mills was submitted and the seizure memo was prepared in his presence.

Another prosecution witness Umar Draz Gondal, Lahore NAB Sub-Inspector also recorded his statement in Al-Azizia and Avenfield corruption references. He had served the call up notices at Jati Umra, issued in the name of Nawaz Sharif and his sons. Gondal said that he delivered the notices to Shamim Farm Jati Umra security incharge Malik Arif and obtained his signatures on the receipt.

After that his statement was recorded by a NAB investigation officer. Khawaja Haris during cross-examination pointed out toat lapses in the Gondal's statement and said that the receipt produced by Gondal does not reveal what case the notices were served for. The hearing was adjourned till January 23.

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