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Bank transaction details provided to court in Al-Azizia case

Updated August 16, 2018

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PML-N legislators protest outside the Parliament House during the speaker’s election on Wednesday.—Tanveer Shahzad / White Star
PML-N legislators protest outside the Parliament House during the speaker’s election on Wednesday.—Tanveer Shahzad / White Star

ISLAMABAD: Testifying before an accountability court, the last prosecution witness in the Al-Azizia Steel/Hill Metal Establishment reference on Wednesday provided details of several transactions in bank accounts of the Sharifs.

Judge Mohammad Arshad Malik recorded the statement of Mehboob Alam, the investigation officer in the Al-Azizia reference, in the presence of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shahbaz Sharif and ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif who was convicted in the Avenfield properties reference last month.

Unlike the last hearing when the ousted prime minister was brought to the federal judicial complex in an armoured personnel carrier (APC), this time the ex-premier was brought to the court in a bulletproof SUV.

For the first time since September last year, Mr Shahbaz witnessed court proceedings in one of the three references filed by the National Accountability Court (NAB) against Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam and son-in-law retired Capt Mohammad Safdar.

Nawaz brought to court in SUV, Shahbaz witnesses proceedings for first time

During the proceedings, the investigation officer in Al-Azizia & Hill Metal reference referred to an audit report and testified that Nawaz Sharif allegedly got roughly 80 per cent of the profit generated from Hill Metal.

While providing details of several transactions to the court, he said 1.2 million euros and $10.2 million were transferred in his Standard Chartered bank account. Then, the witness said, Rs1.187billion was transferred in the ex-premier’s account. An amount of Rs59.256 million was later transferred in Maryam’s account, he said, adding that Hussain gave £1.5m to his brother Hassan.

He also stated that pursuant to the SC order in the Panama Papers case, he had collected and examined the relevant court orders, JIT’s investigation report, CMAs filed before the apex court. He testified that he also had submitted the record before NAB’s relevant department, which led to filing of the reference and, later started recording statements of the witnesses.

The investigation officer said that call-up notices were issued on Aug 11, 2017, to Nawaz Sharif and his sons, Hussain and Hassan, but they showed their inability to turn up due to the review petitions filed before the SC.

The court put off further proceedings till Aug 20.

While a number of PML-N’s lawmakers had gathered outside the accountability court in a bid to witness the proceedings, only five of them were permitted to enter the courtroom. The other party workers protested against the administration for not letting them in.

Fawad Chaudhry, a leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) that is yet to form its government, warned the PML-N workers that if they did not change their attitude, the government would review recalling of order for jail trial of the ex-premier. He told journalists outside the parliament house that it was not possible to accommodate everyone in the accountability court.

After the court proceedings, journalists could pose a few questions to Nawaz Sharif, clad in cream shalwar kameez and grey waistcoat with “MNS” printed on his left cuff, and got some brief answers.

About his health, the ousted prime minister said: “I am feeling good now.” He also said he offered prayers in the cell.

Asked how often he could meet Maryam in the jail, he said: “We meet once a week on the visitors’ day.”

When a reporter asked if he was in solitary confinement, he replied in the affirmative and then added: “You can call that whatever you want.”

As the ousted PM had been brought to the court in an armoured personnel carrier (APC) at the previous hearing, the PML-N leaders and workers waiting outside the accountability court before the hearing on Wednesday believed the police would use an APC to produce him before the court. While the police did bring an APC, the authorities used an SUV to transport Nawaz Sharif whereas his party workers thought their supreme leader was sitting in the APC. They later realized that the APC was empty when the electronic media finally disclosed that Mr Sharif had already entered the courtroom.

Published in Dawn, August 16th, 2018