Accountability judge Arshad Malik has claimed that he was offered a Rs500 million cash bribe by the son of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Hussain Nawaz, who demanded that the judge resign on the grounds that he "could no longer deal with the guilt of having convicted" Nawaz under duress in the Al-Azizia/Hill Metal Establishment reference.
In an affidavit submitted to the Islamabad High Court chief justice, the judge claimed that he was offered bribes and threatened with dire consequences by PML-N representatives initially to force him into issuing verdicts in favour of Nawaz in the Al-Azizia and Flagship Investments references, and later to coerce him into resigning from his office. He said he refused to accept the bribes and give in to the alleged threats.
The judge claimed that in early 2018, an acquaintance named Nasir Janjua, who was associated with the PML-N, "implored" him to issue verdicts of acquittal in the Al-Azizia and Flagship references, saying that it was on his personal recommendation to Nawaz Sharif that he (Malik) was appointed as judge in the accountability court.
During the arguments stage of the references' trial, the judge said he was again approached by Janjua with a "financial offer" from Nawaz of Rs100 million but that he refused the offer.
The offer was shortly followed by a "thinly veiled threat of physical harm and intimidation" by Nasir Butt, the PML-N 'sympathiser' who recorded the video shared by Maryam Nawaz that started the controversy, the judge claimed.
"The threat was delivered by Nasir Butt saying to me in an intimidating tone that he owed Mian Nawaz Sharif a lot, as he (Nawaz) had helped him avoid punishment for 4-5 murders committed by him (Butt) by using his immense political influence and, therefore, he (Butt) was willing to go to any extent to help [Nawaz] in the trials he was facing," judge Malik claimed.
He said once he convicted Nawaz in the Al-Azizia reference and acquitted him in the Flagship reference, Butt and Janjua allegedly started blackmailing him using a "secretly recorded manipulated immoral video [showing him] in a compromising position" that was shot while the judge was serving in Multan.
Using "the Multan video" as a threat, Butt then forced judge Malik to accompany him to Jati Umra and tell Nawaz in person that he had convicted the PML-N supremo "under immense pressure from influential quarters", the judge claimed.
The meeting took place on April 6, but the judge said instead of saying what was demanded by Butt, he told Nawaz that he was convicted in the Al-Azizia reference based on merit. This angered Butt, who demanded that "to compensate for the debacle at the Jati Umra meeting", judge Malik should assist him with the grounds of appeal that was to be filed against the Al-Azizia judgement.
Giving in to the demand due to "blackmailing", the judge said he "reluctantly reviewed" the appeal draft and gave his observations.
It was while he was giving these observations on the appeal that the video clip shown by Maryam at a press conference last week was recorded, the judge claimed. Maryam had quoted the judge as confessing in the video that he had been "pressurised and blackmailed" into issuing a verdict against Nawaz.
"I realised that the sitting in which I had commented upon the draft memorandum of appeal was secretly recorded as edited and manipulated excerpts of conversation from that meeting were part of the audio/video played" at the PML-N press conference, judge Malik said in his affidavit.
According to the judge, he was in Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah when Butt forced him to meet Hussain Nawaz there. In a "palpably aggressive and intimidating" tone, Hussain allegedly offered him a cash bribe of Rs500m and other perks in exchange for the judge resigning over the Al-Azizia verdict.
Judge Malik claimed that he declined Hussain's offer and it was because he refused to give in that "false and malicious allegations" were levelled against him at Maryam's presser of July 06.
Read the full affidavit submitted by judge Malik: