Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday requested the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to review the evidence linked to a controversial video and statement of former accountability judge Arshad Malik before deciding the PML-N supremo's appeal against his conviction in the Al Azizia case.
Last month, Nawaz's lawyer Khawaja Haris had urged the two-judge bench hearing his appeal to include "verified copies" of a press release and an affidavit submitted to IHC by judge Malik — following the release of a controversial video of the judge — to the paper book of the former premier's petition. The request was granted by the court.
The petition submitted by Nawaz's lawyer today stated that Malik's statement "showed one side of the argument" and urged the court to hear the "other side" as well.
He appealed the court to take into consideration the arguments and evidence regarding the judge's video before passing a verdict on his previous appeal.
In December 2018, Nawaz was sentenced to seven years in prison and fined Rs1.5 billion and US $25 million after then accountability judge Malik found him guilty in the Al Azizia corruption case. The former premier, who is currently in Kot Lakhpat jail, filed an appeal against the conviction in the IHC.
In July this year, Nawaz's daughter Maryam Nawaz called the judgement into question after showing a video clip in which Malik allegedly confessed that he had been "blackmailed" into convicting Nawaz. Maryam, who is currently in NAB custody, had called for an overturning of Nawaz's conviction.
Malik was removed from his position after the video was released and has been repatriated to the Lahore High Court where disciplinary proceedings against him will be held.
While deciding a set of petitions regarding the video leak scandal, the Supreme Court had in August ruled that, "The relevant video cannot be of any legal benefit to Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif unless it is properly produced before the Islamabad High Court, Islamabad in the pending appeal, its genuineness is established and then the same is proved in accordance with the law for it to be treated as evidence in the case."
Request to attach more documents
Meanwhile, Nasir Butt, who is suspected to be the second person in judge Malik's 'confession' video, also filed an appeal in the high court today along with documents, which included notarised copies of the video's audio transcript, audio-cum-video transcript, the appellant's affidavit attested by the Pakistan High Commission in the United Kingdom, etc.
He urged the court to include the documents in the appeal filed by Nawaz "in order to secure the ends of justice".
Nasir, in his appeal, said that he has been the senior vice president of the PML-N in the UK for the past 14 years.
FIA arrests Nasir Butt's nephew
Also on Saturday, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) arrested Nasir Butt's nephew, Hamza Butt, and another relative named Shoaib during a raid on the residence of Nasir's brother in Ratta Amral area of Rawalpindi.
Hamza and Shoaib were shifted to the FIA headquarters in Islamabad. However, Shoaib was later released on the condition that he would appear before the agency when summoned.
Confirming the raid at his house, Nasir's younger brother Hafiz Abdullah Butt told DawnNewsTV that FIA personnel had repeatedly asked them for a laptop.
"We have nothing to do with Nasir Butt's case," Abdullah said of his brother, adding that the video scandal was a matter between Nasir and his party, the PML-N.
Suspect who recorded video arrested
The FIA today also claimed to have arrested a suspect who allegedly recorded the video of the meeting between Nasir Butt and judge Malik, in which the latter allegedly confessed to have convicted Nawaz under pressure. The search for a second suspect behind the video recording is underway.
The suspect, identified as Faisal Shaheen, was arrested during a late-night raid in Gulraiz area of Rawalpindi, an FIA spokesperson said.
The investigative agency presented Shaheen before a sessions court, which granted FIA his physical remand until Monday.
The FIA informed the court that Shaheen confessed that he had recorded a video of the Nasir Butt-judge Malik meeting on his mobile phone. The video clip was then transferred to the laptop of Hamza Butt, the nephew of Nasir.
The agency said it wanted to retrieve the laptop and other devices from the suspects.
While approving the remand, the court directed FIA to present both Hamza and Shaheen together at the next hearing.