Court adjourns graft hearing against Sharif family to Jan 16

Islamabad (HRNW): Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain (retd) Safdar on Tuesday appeared before an accountability court in connection with their trial in the references filed against them. The former premier along with his daughter reached the court from Punjab House here amid tight security. The hearing adjourned till January 16, after Judge Muhammad Bashir recorded testimonies of four more witnesses against the Sharif family. Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) joint registrar Sidra Mansoor testified that Hussain Nawaz, the former premier’s elder son, owned 487,400 shares in Mehran Ramzan Textile Mills Ltd, which were later transferred to the Sharif family’s trust.

Defence lawyer Khawaja Haris objected that the witness had presented details and documents which were irrelevant to the organizations involved in the references. When asked, she informed that she was not aware of the records pertaining to Al Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment. Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Inland Revenue Department officer, Tasneem Khan and Muhammad Zubair, an officer of a private bank, were among those who recorded statements in today’s hearing. At the previous hearing, the accountability judge recorded statements of two witnesses – an official of Inland Revenue department Muhammad Tasneem and NAB’s assistant director Zawar Manzoor – who testified against the ruling family. Tasneem told the judge that he provided verified income and wealth tax record of Sharif and his sons to NAB officials in presence of investigation officer Jahangir Ahmed.

Whereas, Manzoor testified against the Sharif family in the Avenfield reference. After they recorded statements, the Sharif family’s lawyer cross-examined them. On December 19, a prosecution witness and NAB’s additional director Shakeel Anjum Nagra told the court that he received attested/certified copies of the JIT report from the apex court and handed them over to the NAB. Yasir Shabbir, an official of the Muslim Commercial Bank, told the judge that he provided record of several transactions of the former premier to the bureau. When cross-examined, he said he did not see any irregularities in these transactions. Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Afaq Ahmed submitted the letter of Qatari prince Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabar Al Thani, which was earlier provided to a Supreme Court-sanctioned joint investigation team that probed the Sharif family’s wealth.

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