ISLAMABAD: The prosecution in the Al-Azizia reference on Wednesday completed the presentation of its evidence and requested the accountability court to record the statement of ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the case.
Last prosecution witness Mehboob Alam — an investigation officer of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) — in the said reference was the 22nd witness produced before the accountability court since October last year, following indictment of Mr Sharif in the Al-Azizia/Hill Metal Establishment reference.
However, lead defence counsel of Mr Sharif Khawaja Haris Ahmed said that he would not become part of the proceedings if such a direction was passed as it was earlier decided that court would continue hearing both references simultaneously.
Accountability court Judge Mohammad Arshad Malik remarked that since he had written a letter to the Supreme Court seeking extension in the deadline to conclude the reference in Al-Azizia and Flagship references, therefore, the strategy would be outlined in accordance with the guidelines of the apex court.
During cross-examination, Mr Alam admitted that Mr Sharif never claimed that he was the owner of the companies [Azizia & HME] during his addresses and statements recorded before the Supreme Court and JIT. Apart from the investigating the accused, he admitted, no other beneficiaries of the assets were investigated or associated in the investigation. He said he did not investigate about Sharif family’s companies that were operational or closed down.
In addition, he said, he did not record statement of any person who had knowledge about distribution of shares in the companies owned by Sharif family. Also, he conceded that Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz Sharif — who is currently in NAB’s custody in connection with a housing scam — had informed JIT that their father late Mian Sharif used to bear expenses of Hussain, Hassan and Hamza Shahbaz.
“No witness has said that Hussain and Hasan Nawaz supported Nawaz in establishing Hill Metal Establishment,” Mr Alam said, adding that no witness had said anything regarding when the Al-Azizia steel mill was established, or regarding its sponsor funding. He said nobody from the Chaudhry Sugar mills, Hudaibya mills and various other companies in question — who have knowledge on the matter — were included in the investigation.
The court adjourned further proceeding till Thursday (today).
Published in Dawn, October 11th, 2018