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Corruption references: Nawaz’s counsel to file petition against AC’s order for combined verdict

By Faisal Kamal Pasha & Monitoring Report
June 05, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Counsel of Nawaz Sharif, counsel of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Monday said he would file a petition today (Tuesday) against the Accountability Court’s written order to announce a combined judgement in three corruption references.

The Accountability Court in Islamabad adjourned the cross-examination of Panamagate Joint Investigation Team (JIT) head and prosecution's star witness Wajid Zia in Al-Azizia reference against the Sharif family till June 11. The Accountability Court Judge Muhammad Bashir while adjourning the cross-examination directed the prosecution to submit final arguments in London flats case by today (Tuesday).

The Supreme Court’s extended deadline for adjudication of these cases is going to expire on June 9. On Monday, the AC judge said he would write an application to the Supreme Court for grant of more time in this matter. The judge once again turned down defence’s request to first complete with the evidence and cross-examination in other two references of Al-Azizia and Flagship and then jointly hear the final arguments in three corruption references.

Counsel for Nawaz Sharif, Khawaja Haris Ahmad said the prosecution successfully befooled them letting them expose their entire defence at first and now when the court is going to decide Avenfield apartments corruption reference, it would disclose its strategy. Obviously, he said, these cases are connected to each other and whatever decision this court would render in one case, same will be in other two cases. He said the court should then transfer the two other cases to some other court. Haris said their defence has been what they said in their statements under Section 342 before the court. He said 60 percent of these cases are connected to each other, and defence for the assistance of this court had been arguing again and again to jointly hear this matter. Haris said that in all the three corruption references, the material about Gulf Steel Mill and Qatar Investment is similar. He referred to a previous decision of the AC where it clearly said that it would decide all the three corruption references simultaneously to avoid conflicting judgments.

The court while turning down Haris’ request decided to hear final arguments in Avenfield apartments corruption reference today (Tuesday). Haris said that he would file an application for joint hearing of the defence version.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Deputy Prosecutor General (DPG) Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi on the other hand counter argued that he has to present final arguments inall the three corruption references differently as the three references are different from each other.

Haris repeated almost same cross-examination to the extent of Gulf Steel Mills in Al-Azizia corruption reference that he did previously in Avenfield apartments reference. He also contested that he has been forced to do that otherwise the precious time could have been saved.

Haris questioned Wajid Zia regarding the shares sale agreement of GSM between Nawaz Sharif’s cousin Tariq Shafi and Muhammad Abdullah Kayed Ahli in 1978. Zia said the JIT did not verify the authenticity of the share sale agreement and it assumed the contents as correct. About the share-sales agreement of 1980, Zia said that it was fake and the JIT did not try to verify that.

To another question, Zia said the JIT never contacted Ahli to record his statement in this matter. Haris posed a question that Tariq Shafi had told the JIT that Ahli paid cash amount against 25 percent shares of GSM. Did JIT ever tried to contact Ahli to know his version? Zia replied in the negative. Another shares sale agreement on April 14, 1980 between the said two persons was also signed and witnessed by Abdul Wahab Guladari. The JIT did not contact the witness to record his statement. Of the 1980 agreement, Zia said, another person, Muhammad Akram had signed as a witness and the JIT tried to locate him but could not find him. He said the 1980 agreement was attested by a Pakistani consular Munawar Hussain and also by the UAE foreign affairs. He said the JIT neither contacted Munawar Hussain nor the UAE foreign office for the verification.

Haris posed another question that there was another affidavit of Abdur Rehman, the son of Ahli according to which a total of 33 million dirhams were paid against sale of GSM. To this, Zia said that there were contradictions between the two sale agreements. He said the JIT never asked Abdur Rehman to record his statement before the JIT to verify the contents of his affidavit.

Haris then confronted Zia on the issue of transportation of steel mills machinery from UAE to Jeddah as stated by Hussain Nawaz that in 2000-01 the machinery of the Ahli Steel Mills was transported to Jeddah where Al-Azizia Steel Mills was established.

Haris asked Zia that the JIT had written a mutual legal assistance (MLA) application to the UAE central authority ministry of justice, asking them to provide the record of transportation of scrap machinery from Dubai to Jeddah and the UAE authorities had said that they don’t have any record. Haris asked Zia did the JIT before writing this MLA has seen the copy of letter of credit, through which this machinery was transported? Zia replied in the affirmative. Haris then pointed out that the machinery was not transported from Dubai and in fact, it was transported from Sharjah. He also pointed out that it wasn’t even scrap machinery and it was a second-hand rolling mill equipment in dismantled form as per letter of credit. Zia said the JIT had not sent any MLA to the UAE authorities for verification of the letter of credit.

Haris then asked that if any member of JIT travelled to UAE for the verification of the two sale agreements of GSM? Zia replied in negative. He said the JIT had concluded that the 1980 sale agreement was forged. He said the JIT’s conclusion was based on a letter from the UAE Ministry of Justice dated June 28, 2017 that said that they did not find any record of the agreement in Dubai court system.