Hearing of Al-Azizia reference against Nawaz Sharif under way

ISLAMABAD: The hearing of Al-Azizia reference against the Sharif family is under way in an accountability court.

Judge Muhammad Bashir is presiding over the case. Nawaz Sharif’s legal counsel Khawaja Harris will continue to cross-examine Panamagate Joint Investigation Team (JIT) head and prosecution’s star witness Wajid Zia — an additional director at the Federal Investigation Agency.

In an earlier hearing, Zia had said no evidence was found linking former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to Hill Metal Establishment.

“Neither any witness claimed nor there is any document to show that Nawaz was involved in any way with Hill Metal Establishment,” Zia had said during his cross-examination as Judge Mohammad Bashir presided proceedings in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference.
On Thursday, Zia said he did not come across any document during the investigation which showed that Nawaz is the owner of Al-Azizia Steel Mills.

The cases

Nawaz and his family are facing three corruption cases in the Accountability Court-I after the NAB filed references against them in light of the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Panama Papers case.
The trial against the Sharif family had commenced on September 14, 2017.
The corruption references, filed against the Sharifs, pertain to the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment, offshore companies including Flagship Investment Ltd, and Avenfield properties of London.
Nawaz and sons Hussain and Hasan are accused in all three references whereas his daughter Maryam and son-in-law Safdar are accused in the Avenfield reference only.
The two brothers, based abroad, have been absconding since the proceedings began last year and were declared proclaimed offenders by the court.
The court originally had a deadline of six months which ended in mid-March but was extended for two months after the judge requested the apex court.