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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court on Tuesday allowed the counsel for former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to record objections to the testimony of Wajid Zia, head of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) constituted on the orders of the Supreme Court, in the Al-Azizia reference.

The trial proceedings in the Al-Azizia reference have been stalled since Aug 30 when Mr Sharif’s counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed claimed that accountability court Judge Mohammad Arshad Malik had allegedly changed the statement of Mr Zia while the star prosecution witness was being cross-examined in the Al-Azizia reference.

Subsequently, Mr Haris raised 10 objections to Mr Zia’s statement.

Khawaja Haris accuses accountability judge of changing an entire sentence of recorded statement in Al-Azizia reference

On Aug 30, the defence counsel accused Judge Malik of changing Mr Zia’s version while recording his statement during the cross-examination and said that these changes were made on the prosecution’s insistence.

Among the objections recorded on Tuesday, Mr Haris said, an entire sentence “it is incorrect to suggest that it [Aldar Audit Bureau report] was not produced by the accused Hussain Nawaz Sharif before the JIT” was not there in the originally recorded statement, but was introduced while making the change.

He said that while making the deletions and adding the sentence, as aforesaid, the originally recorded statement of the witness was not retained on the record; accordingly, after the change in the statement, the record did not reflect what was the originally recorded statement in which the change was effected by the court.

In addition, the counsel said he had asked Mr Zia whether any question had been put by the JIT to accused Hussain Nawaz regarding the Aldar Audit Bureau report during the course of investigation. To the question, he said, Mr Zia had said he would have to consult the record as there were five sessions during which Hussain Nawaz had appeared before the JIT. Later, he said, the witness replied to the question in the negative by saying “no”. Subsequently, Mr Haris said, Mr Zia’s answer was recorded as “JIT had not asked any question to accused Hussain Nawaz Sharif regarding the Aldar Audit Bureau report”.

In the meantime, he said, NAB’s deputy prosecutor general Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi approached the rostrum and raised an objection that the complete answer should be read that “when he appeared with the Aldar Audit Bureau report”. In response, the defence counsel said, he raised an objection that this was not the question he had put to the witness.

Mr Haris further raised the objection that the question was not in the form of a suggestion. He argued that the portion of notes was read by the court, but thereafter the court simply proceeded to change the statement of the witness.

According to the counsel, he had objected to the changes and pleaded that even if any changes were to be effected, these should be made without deleting any portion of the statement of witness as originally recorded, and, after objections from both parties, the court might pass a speaking order.

The accountability court, after recording these objections, adjourned proceedings till Wednesday (today).

Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2018