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JIT head keeps official’s identity secret in photo leak issue

Updated August 29, 2018

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Leaked picture of Hussain Nawaz during a meeting with JIT. — File
Leaked picture of Hussain Nawaz during a meeting with JIT. — File

ISLAMABAD: During his cross-examination in the Al-Azizia/Hill Metal Establishment reference before an accountability court on Tuesday, the Panamagate Joint Investigation Team head kept secret the identity of the individual who had leaked a photo of the ousted prime minister’s son Hussain Nawaz appearing before the JIT.

JIT head Wajid Zia said the matter had been settled before the Supreme Court, but he could not produce any SC directive prohibiting him from sharing the information with the trial court.

When asked by defence counsel Khwaja Haris to disclose the identity of the person who had leaked the picture to the media, Mr Zia said the staff member belonged to a sensitive department and was repatriated after the photo leak.

In response to another question, Mr Zia conceded that the JIT report did not mention quantification of cash flow or retained earnings of the Hill Metal Establishment (HME) of any financial year. He admitted that he remained unable to produce any evidence to show the cash flow and retained earnings of the HME of any financial year.

Cross-examination of star prosecution witness in Al-Azizia reference to resume today

Judge Mohammad Arshad Malik of the accountability court asked Mr Zia to take his time before answering the question and consult the record, if needed, because he had to answer a question on the basis of available record only.

Initially, Mr Zia said it was not possible for the JIT to quantify cash flows and retained earnings, but later added: “There’s no quantification of cash flows or retained earnings of HME in any financial year in the JIT report.” He explained that financial statements had not been provided to the JIT despite repeated requests made to Mr Hussain, the son of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

In response to a question, Mr Zia went through the record again and said different portions of the JIT report had been drafted by different JIT members. However, he was unable to identify who had drafted which portion of the report. He explained that the JIT members “sat together and evolved consensus” on the final draft of the investigation report.

After hearing the answer, Mr Haris remarked that there was no need to consult the record for such a reply.

In response to a question about Qatari letters, Mr Zia admitted that one of the dates on a letter placed in the JIT report was incorrect, but hastened to add that it was an “honest” mistake.

During the hearing, the judge expressed annoyance over frequent entry and exit of security officials and others in the courtroom. He said frequent explanations by the prosecution witness also caused irritation. At one point, the judge barred Mr Zia from giving unnecessary explanations. Many a time, the judge also asked the defence counsel to refrain himself from asking questions which had no direct link with the case.

Mr Haris, however, claimed that his questions were relevant. Each question was being asked to clear the ex-premier from the issues he had been unnecessarily entangled, the defence counsel added.

The court adjourned the proceedings in the Al-Azizia reference till Wednesday.

Published in Dawn, August 29th, 2018