Prosecution witness testifies in singer’s defamation case

Updated September 13, 2019

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A high-profile sexual-harassment scandal that rocked Hollywood landed in a Lahore’s sessions court on Thursday when singer Meesha Shafi’s legal counsel defending her in a defamation suit by fellow singer/actor Ali Zafar asked a woman prosecution witness about the allegations on movie mogul Harvey Weinstein by famous actresses Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow. — Dawn.com/File
A high-profile sexual-harassment scandal that rocked Hollywood landed in a Lahore’s sessions court on Thursday when singer Meesha Shafi’s legal counsel defending her in a defamation suit by fellow singer/actor Ali Zafar asked a woman prosecution witness about the allegations on movie mogul Harvey Weinstein by famous actresses Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow. — Dawn.com/File

LAHORE: A high-profile sexual-harassment scandal that rocked Hollywood landed in a Lahore’s sessions court on Thursday when singer Meesha Shafi’s legal counsel defending her in a defamation suit by fellow singer/actor Ali Zafar asked a woman prosecution witness about the allegations on movie mogul Harvey Weinstein by famous actresses Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow.

During cross examination, Defence counsel Saqib Jillani also showed pictures of the Hollywood actresses and the film magnate to witness Sara Rehman, asking her whether she heard their names and what opinion she had on their allegations and late disclosure of the incidents of sexual harassment they allegedly endured decades ago.

The witness said she was familiar with the names of the Hollywood scandal’s characters, however, did not know whether Jolie and Paltrow accused Weinstein of sexual harassment decades after the alleged incidents.

Responding to the defence’s queries, Ms Rehman further said she did not know whether the allegations on Mr Weinstein by the actresses were false or not. “I cannot say whether these women have misused #Metoo movement or not,” she added.

“You cannot generalise only God knows who is lying and who is not,” said Ms Rehman when asked if a woman took a long time in reporting an incident of sexual harassment did that mean she was lying.

The witness, who was a common friend of Shafi and Zafar, reiterated the details of the party hosted by Hassan Shaheryar Yaseen (HSY) in February 2018. She said, “I remembered in the said party, Meesha was wearing a silver skirt as she was looking very nice and different. I don’t remember the colour of shoes. The skirt was extremely stretchable and it was possible for her to jump over the sofa to meet Ali Zafar because she is an avid yoga expert and I am sure that she has enough flexibility to do so.”

“It depends and varies from person to person and as per their age,” she responded to defence’s query that is it correct that a woman wearing a skirt has to take certain precautions while sitting and getting up.

The witness said as per her opinion, in the given circumstances and face value of the facts, Meesha Shafi perhaps had some agenda in her mind in levelling the allegations.

During the Thursday’s proceedings, Zafar also appeared and told the court he was ready for his cross-examination.

However, Judge Amjad Ali Shah adjourned hearing till Sept 19 as the defence counsel sought time to prepare for the cross-examination.

At this, Zafar said he had especially flown in from Europe to complete his evidence but his defamation case was deliberately being delayed by defendant’s legal team. He also requested the court to hear the case on a daily basis.

However, the judge deferred the hearing and allowed time to the defence counsel for the cross-examination.

In his suit, Zafar said Shafi through a tweet on April 19, 2008 levelled baseless allegations of sexual harassment against him, which resulted in tarnishing his image in public while his family had been facing agony.

He said she failed to delete the tweet and issue an apology based on the tweet within 14 days of a legal notice served on her. He asked the court to issue a decree against Ms Shafi directing her to pay Rs1 billion as damages to him.

Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2019