Friday June 21, 2024

NAB witnesses demolished case against Sharifs

By Usman Manzoor
February 25, 2018

ISLAMABAD: While Robert William Radley demolished the prosecution case against the Sharifs, the second prime witness Akhtar Raja seriously embarrassed his first cousin and Whatsapp-call-fame Joint Investigation Team head Wajid Zia.

Where Radley admitted the existence and usage of Calibri font before 2007, Akhtar Raja of Quist Law Firm made a startling revelation during his cross examination that being the first cousin of Wajid Zia, he congratulated Zia in May 2017 on becoming head of the JIT and subsequently he was hired by Zia to work for JIT. Wajid Zia was made the head of JIT on May 5, 2017 while the services of Akhtar Raja were hired on May 12, 2017.

Interestingly, Raja was accused of charging the JIT hefty amount from the public fund but Wajid Zia in one of his interviews to The News had claimed that Raja reduced his fee by 35 percent for JIT. Akhtar Raja disclosed before the court through his video link statement that he was hired by the entire JIT but when Nawaz Sharif’s counsel Khawaja Haris asked him there had to be someone from the JIT who had contacted him for his services, Raja said, “It was Wajid Zia, his first cousin, who contacted him to work for the JIT.”

During the cross examination of the two prime witnesses of NAB, Sharif family’s lawyers Khawaja Haris and Amjad Pervaiz, it became evident from what the duo did to the NAB’s witnesses.

While describing his nature of services provided to the JIT, Akhtar Raja said he would review the documents and issues in the making. Raja told the court when Wajid Zia was announced as head of JIT, he sent a message of congratulations to Zia and subsequently, Zia contacted him to work for the JIT. The lawyers of Sharif family, Khawaja Haris and Amjad Pervaiz alleged that Raja was paid a hefty amount by Wajid Zia and that the amount did not match the services provided by Raja to Zia-led JIT and that was the reason Raja was hiding how much he was paid. Raja only responded that it was privilege communication between him and the JIT.

Raja told the court that it was through him that the services of Radley were hired for the JIT. When he was confronted that the JIT could have hired the services of any agency including Radley at its own and there was no need of him to hire the services of any agency on behalf of the JIT, Raja answered that it would have become difficult for the JIT to hire services of Radley directly because of various reasons.

Akhtar Raja, during his cross examination, said he had prepared a commentary on the cases against the Sharifs which was based on Dawn’s article published in 2000, London court’s decision in al-Tawfeeq case and “Draft’ settlement deed, and admitted that in any of the documents quoted by him, the names of Mian Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Captain (retd) Safdar did not appear anywhere. Akhtar Raja also admitted that he did not prepare himself nor he was part of the proceedings or events mentioned in his commentary.

It is worth mentioning here that the JIT head Wajid Zia requested the Supreme Court to remove codal formalities for the JIT for using funds to avoid PPRA rules which the Supreme Court allowed making Zia the Principle Accounting officer of the JIT. What Zia did next was to hire his first cousin in the UK.

Robert Radley in his cross examination admitted that he was tutored by NAB officials and deputy prosecutor general in a two-hour-and fifteen minute meeting a day before the cross examination. Although this tutoring could not attain any fruitful results, he admitted in the court that he discussed the cross examination material with the NAB officials and prepared notes as well from which he was reading out the statement to the court. The defence counsels objected to the notes and asked Radley to provide the notes to the court which was done.

When Advocate Amjad Pervaiz asked Radley about the dates on which the report was prepared, he admitted that the report was prepared on Saturday and handed over to Akhtar Raja on Sunday whereas his office normally remains close on Saturdays and Sundays. Radley also told the court that though original documents were required for accurate forensic testing but he did not ask his client to provide the original documents. During his cross examination, the forensic expert also revealed that he did not read the documents and simply put that into a Video Spectral Comparator for forensic match and reading the contents was the job of the solicitor. He mentioned that he did not know that his report would land in a court. When he was confronted, that his report mentions the exact case numbers which the Supreme Court of Pakistan was hearing against the Sharif family, Radley first said, “I said any court and not a particular court”. Khawaja Haris reminded him that his report is addressed to the SC of Pakistan. Amjad Pervez, lawyer of Maryam Nawaz, made Robert Radley admit that he had not mentioned any information source i.e. website, book, article etc in his report which is otherwise mandatory for an expert.

Regarding the Calibri font, first NAB’s witness claimed that the font was not available commercially before January 31, 2007 but later admitted that the developers of Calibri font were awarded by Type Developers’ Club competition in 2005. Radley also admitted that the Beta version of Windows Vista was available from April 2005 which included Calibri font and he downloaded it and used it.

Then came the NAB’s tutoring. Having said this, Radley on Friday turned to his notes and started giving a lecture on who could use Beta version of Windows Vista stating that only IT experts could use the windows Vista Beta-I for checking the crashes and interaction of software with other software. Here he was caught reading the notes and was asked to provide the notes to the court. Radley admitted that he had prepared these notes in consultation with NAB officials a day before the cross examination as witness. The next day, Radley told the court that any person with IT knowledge could download Windows Vista Beta-1 version in any organisation. He also admitted that he was not an IT expert nor a computer geek.

During the examination, Radley also maintained that he could have prepared a report ten times bigger than the report he prepared for the JIT at the behest of Raja Akhtar.