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May 16, 2018
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NAB references against Sharifs: Accused statements to be recorded under Section 342 CrPC

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May 16, 2018

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OBy ur correspondent

ISLAMABAD: While joint investigation team (JIT) head Wajid Zia Tuesday completed his statement in Al Azizia/ Hill Metal Establishment (HME) corruption reference, Accountability Court (AC) judge Muhammad Bashir decided to record statements of Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain (R) Muhammad Safdar under Section 342 CrPC in London flats corruption reference.

The court ordered for preparing questionnaires for the accused. Various questions raised during the hearing of Avenfield apartments corruption reference will be asked from the accused in the court. The questionnaires would be handed over to the accused on Wednesday (today) as an advance intimation regarding their statements, which have to be recorded under Section 342 CrPC.

The judge decided this after hearing arguments from prosecution and defence that whether or not to record statements of the accused in Avenfield apartments prior to completion of the statements of the prosecution witnesses in all three corruption references.

National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecution, headed by deputy prosecutor general (DPG) Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi, had been pressing the court that since all the prosecution witnesses in Avenfield apartments corruption reference have completed with their statements and cross-examination as well, therefore it is necessary that statements of the accused should be recorded under Section 342 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) to close the case.

Counsel for Nawaz Sharif, Khwaja Haris Ahmad, and Amjad Pervez, lawyer for Maryam and Safdar, had been arguing that the prosecution side should complete their arguments in all three references first, and then the accused would record their statements; otherwise, their defence would be exposed.

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on December 4, 2017 had dismissed an application of Nawaz Sharif for joint trial and joint framing of charges in the three corruption references. In the said application, Nawaz Sharif’s counsel had expressed his apprehension that separate recording of statements in the three corruption references and cross-examination would expose their defence.

To this apprehension, the IHC bench had said that the petitioner could file an application in this regard before the AC seeking joint cross-examination of the prosecution witnesses, who are common in the three corruption references.

Afterwards, when Nawaz Sharif filed an application for joint statement of Wajid Zia in all the three corruption references, the AC dismissed it, but in its order dated Nov 8, 2017, the court had noted: “In order to avoid conflicting judgments, or any likelihood of ignoring any defence that will be produced by the applicant separately in each reference, all the three references shall be decided simultaneously.”

During Tuesday’s hearing, Khwaja Haris argued that since the court had already decided that the three corruption references would be simultaneously decided, so it was better to record the prosecution evidence and witnesses first.

Volumes of Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report overlap each other and there are common questions connected to each reference. These questions will be repeated again and again, so it is for the convenience of the court and to save time that prosecution first gets complete with its evidence and witnesses, Haris said.

Amjad Pervez adopted arguments of Haris.

The AC, however, decided to give a questionnaire in advance to the accused persons before recording of their statements.

Earlier, JIT head Wajid Zia completed his statement in Al Azizia/ HME corruption reference, which took four hearings to complete.

Zia stated that the total earnings of the HME from 2010 to 2015 were $9.9 million, whereas Hussain Nawaz gifted $8.9 million to Nawaz Sharif, which is 88% profit of the Establishment. This shows that Nawaz Sharif was the significant beneficial owner of HME, which was ostensibly owned by Hussain Nawaz, who practically reduced it to the status of Nawaz Sharif’s benamidar.

The JIT asked Hussain to provide financial statement and other documents like articles of memorandum of association and details of loans of HME to justify that he was able to gift huge sums of money to his father, which he did not.

To this, the JIT concluded that the HME was not in a position to gift those huge sums of money and the reason Hussain is concealing the financial statements and other documents.

Zia said that there is no correlation between the profit/ loss and the amount being sent by Hussain to his father.

In 2010, HME made a profit of about $588,000 whereas Hussain in the same year sent $1.5 million to his father.

In 2015, HME made a loss of $1.5million whereas Hussain in the same year gifted $2.1 million to his father.

Hassan Nawaz, in his statement before the JIT, had submitted that he received 800,000 Great Britain Pounds (GBP) from Hussain Nawaz and that amount is also not justified through the record, Zia further said.

Today, his statement was regarding post Al Azizia and start of Hill Metal Establishment (HME) in 2006. Zia said that Hussain Nawaz had told that he started HME with the money he got from the sale of Al-Azizia Steel Company. Annual cash flow from HME and retained earnings enabled Hussain to send gifts in the form of money to his father Nawaz Sharif. Hussain had also told the JIT that it was in his knowledge that Nawaz Sharif was gifting that money onward to his daughter to strengthen her financial position. Zia said that the JIT obtained record of banking transactions of Hussain Nawaz and HME gift amounts to Nawaz Sharif and their onward transmission to Maryam Nawaz.

Khwaja Haris raised objections over the statement of Wajid Zia and said that the statements recorded before the JIT could not be quoted here as the JIT report is inadmissible under the law.

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