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Defence may raise objections, court orders Zia to record statement | Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: The accountability court hearing the corruption cases against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family ruled that former Panama case probe team head Wajid Zia will record his statement in the Avenfield properties case.

The deposed prime minister on March 20 had petitioned to seek clarity on what all can be submitted by Zia when the court resumed hearing the Avenfield properties reference against Nawaz, daughter Maryam and son-in-law MNA Capt (retd) Safdar.

The court noted that the defence lawyer could raise objections, as was his right, however a decision on those objections would be made later. 

The judge presiding over the case remarked that the former head of JIT could not comment on whether the defendant was guilty or not. 

During the hearing, Zia, a serving additional director of the Federal Investigation Agency who headed the joint investigation team (JIT) which probed the Sharif family’s assets last year on the Supreme Court’s orders, resumed recording his statement and submitted several documents that are part of the JIT report.

Nawaz’s counsel had earlier objected to several of the documents submitted by Zia and sought clarity on what all Zia can present in court. 

The counsel had claimed the Zia could not submit certain sections of the JIT report as they are either irrelevant to the case or contain analysis and opinion. 

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had filed three interim corruption references against the Sharif family in September last year in light of the Supreme Court’s July 28 verdict in the Panama Papers case. The bureau recently filed supplementary references in all three cases as well.

The former JIT head has been recording his statement in the case since the last three hearings. He has also submitted in court several key documents that the JIT acquired during its probe into the Sharif family’s assets.

The cases

The trial against the Sharif family had commenced on September 14, 2017.

The corruption references, filed against the Sharif family, pertain to the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment, offshore companies including Flagship Investment Ltd, and Avenfield properties of London.

Nawaz and sons Hussain and Hasan are accused in all three references whereas his daughter Maryam and son-in-law MNA Capt (retd) Safdar are accused in the Avenfield reference only.

The two brothers, based abroad, have been absconding since the proceedings began last year and were declared proclaimed offenders by the court. 

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