News Analysis |
Jailed former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s counsel Khawaja Harris continued the cross-examination of prosecution’s star witness and head of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT)—Wajid Zia, in the Al-Azizia and Flagship Investment references on Friday. The incarcerated former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was brought to the court under heavy security. He was given an exemption from appearance for a day on Thursday. The Accountability court II Judge Mohammad Arshad Malik resumed the hearing of two remaining corruption references pertaining to Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Flagship investment.
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has issued the notice to NAB to appear before the court over the allegations of alteration in the statement of Wajid Zia. A new bench has been formed in IHC –which includes justices Athar Minallah and Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb. Moreover, IHC is set to resume hearing the appeals of Sharif family against their July 6conviction in Avenfield case on September 10.
The court is yet to complete the statements of star-witness Wajid Zia and the investigation officer in Flagship reference, while, in Al-Azizia reference, Wajid’s cross-examination is continuing and the investigation officer has partially recorded his statement.
Meanwhile, IHC has accepted Khawaja Harris’s application in which he accused the accountability court Judge Malik of tampering with the record. Earlier, he had threatened to leave the case, if this injustice continues. During the cross-examination of Zia, Haris alleged that accountability court judge Arshad Malik had changed the statement of the witness in Al-Azizia and Flagship Investment references. He accused that Judge had changed the already recorded answer at the behest of the NAB prosecutor.
A year since NAB Filed References against Nawaz
Today marks a year since NAB had filed the three corruption references against the Sharif family. Last year on September 07, 2017, NAB started the proceedings against the ousted PM Nawaz. So far, five extensions in the deadline have been granted, since, the start of the trial against ‘house of Nawaz’ on September 14, 2017, after the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif on July 28, 2017
Read more: Accountability court hears the NAB references against Nawaz Sharif
On August 27, CJP headed a three-judge bench comprising of Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan—which ordered a six-week extension in the deadline for concluding the Al-Azizia and Flagship Investment references. After the Avenfield verdict, currently, the court is running the two references simultaneously, and twin-verdict will be announced in both references.
The court is yet to complete the statements of star-witness Wajid Zia and the investigation officer in Flagship reference, while, in Al-Azizia reference, Wajid’s cross-examination is continuing and the investigation officer has partially recorded his statement. After this, accused—Nawaz and his sons [who are now absconders] would have to record their statements. And, finally, both the prosecution and defense would argue over the case.
Read more: No victimization of PMLN leader, says NAB chief
Nawaz’s sons, Hussain and Hasan have been declared proclaimed offenders for not appearing before the court. Both brothers were accused in all the references along with their father. Meanwhile, the Islamabad High Court is yet to announce the reserved verdict on the appeals a filed by the Sharif against the Avenfield judgment.