4 prosecution witnesses testify in Sharif corruption references

Published January 9, 2018
Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz arrive at accountability court on Tuesday. — DawnNews
Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz arrive at accountability court on Tuesday. — DawnNews

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif appeared before an accountability court in Islamabad with his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired Captain Muhammad Safdar early on Tuesday morning for a hearing pertaining to corruption references against the Sharif family.

During today's hearing, prosecution witnesses, including Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) Joint Registrar Sidra Mansoor, recorded their statements before Judge Mohammad Bashir. Witnesses were also questioned by the Nawaz's attorney, Advocate Khawaja Harris.

Testifying before the court, Mansoor presented details of shares owned by Hussain Nawaz, the former premier's son, in Mehran Ramzan Textile Mills Ltd. She said that according to documents submitted to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Hussain used to own 487,400 shares in the mills.

She added that on 27 March, 2001, the shares had been transferred to the Sharif trust as a gift. Mansoor said that on 28 March, 2008, Hussain was the owner of 1,000 shares in the textile mills.

Advocate Khawaja Harris told the witness that the current investigation pertains to the Al Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment, adding that the documents she presented today were related to a different organisation.

The witness told the lawyer that she is not aware of the availability of records regarding Al Azizia Steel Mills or Hill Metal Establishment at SECP.

Mansoor added that NAB's investigating officer, before whom she had recorded her statement in August last year, had also not asked her about those records. She said that no transactions had been conducted between the textile mills and Al Azizia Steel Mills or Hill Metal Establishment.

Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Inland Revenue Department officer, Tasneem Khan, too recorded his statement before the court today, presenting the income and wealth tax records of Nawaz and his children.

Mohammad Zubair, an officer associated with a private bank, presented bank account details of Nawaz and his sons.

Assistant director NAB, too, recorded his statement before the court today. A fifth prosecution witness, Umar Gondal, was expected to record his statement, as well, but was not present in the court room due to ill health.

Maryam's lawyer was displeased with the witness' failure to inform the court of his absence and said that Gondal should present a medical certificate from a public hospital.

The hearing was adjourned until January 16.

The former premier had appeared before the court for the 12th time today. Strict security arrangements have been made ahead of each of the former premier's appearances at the accountability court. Similarly today, a heavy contingent of police was seen stationed outside the court as Nawaz, Maryam and Safdar made their way there from Punjab House.

NAB references

A five-member bench of the Supreme Court on July 28 had directed NAB to file references against Nawaz and his children in six weeks in the accountability court and directed the trial court to decide the references within six months.

The Supreme Court also assigned Justice Ijazul Ahsan a supervisory role to monitor the progress of the accountability court proceedings.

The former premier and his sons, Hassan and Hussain, have been named in all three NAB references, while Maryam and husband Safdar have been named only in the Avenfield reference.

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