NAB team to record statements of two witnesses in UK

Updated February 20, 2018

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Wajid Zia is an uncle of a witness who owns the firm that conducted forensic analysis of data related to the probe.
Wajid Zia is an uncle of a witness who owns the firm that conducted forensic analysis of data related to the probe.

ISLAMABAD: The head of the prosecution along with a director of the National Accountability Bureau on Monday left for the United Kingdom for recording statements of two witnesses in connection with the London properties reference filed against ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif and members of his family.

NAB’s Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi and its director will remain at the Pakistani High Commission in London during the testimonies.

Interestingly, the counsel for the Sharif family, who has been allowed by the accountability court to be in the high commission during the recording of statements of the two foreign witnesses, is unlikely to proceed abroad.

It is the first time that the NAB prosecution team has gone to a foreign jurisdiction for such an exercise. Earlier when US lobbyist Mark Siegel testified from Washington he was accompanied by PPP lawyer Farooq H. Naek. Likewise, Hussain Haqqani was assisted by defence lawyer Zahid Bokhari in the Memogate proceeding.

Ex-JIT chief Wajid Zia told to produce in court original report on Feb 22

The NAB team will stay in the UK till Feb 24.

Wajid Zia, head of the Joint Investi­gation Team which had declared former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his children guilty during the probe into the Panama Papers scandal, has been asked by the accountability court to produce the original JIT report on Feb 22 as it would be required during the statements of the two foreign witnesses via video link in the Avenfield apartments supplementary reference.

This would be the first time Wajid Zia and Nawaz Sharif would be present in the same courtroom together.

One of the witnesses — Raja Akhtar, a nephew of Wajid Zia — owns the UK-based Quist Solicitor which the JIT had hired for forensic analysis of data related to the probe. The other witness, Robert M. Radley, is principal of his own firm Radley Forensic Document Laboratory.

Mr Radley had revealed that the type font used in trust deeds of two companies was Calibri which was not commercially available before Jan 31, 2007 and, therefore, the documents were prepared and signed on an earlier date.

Accountability Court Judge Mohammad Bashir had allowed the two witnesses to testify through video link when NAB informed him that they were in the UK and could not come to Pakistan due to security reasons and other professional engagements.

The JIT was formed last year on the orders of the Supreme Court to investigate allegations of corruption against the Sharif family. It was headed by FIA’s Additional Director General Wajid Zia and comprised representatives from the Inter-Services Intelligence, Military Intelligence, NAB, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and State Bank.

The JIT submitted its report to the Supreme Court on July 10.

On the basis of JIT’s findings, the apex court had on July 28 last year removed Mr Sharif from the post of prime minister and directed NAB to file four references — three against the Sharif family and one against then finance minister Ishaq Dar — in the accountability court.

The accountability court was asked to complete the trial in six months.

Published in Dawn, February 20th, 2018