Wajid Zia records statement in Al Azizia case against Nawaz

ISLAMABAD: Federal Investigation Agency Additional Director Wajid Zia began recording his statement in the Al Azizia reference against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif today.

Earlier, Nawaz reached the accountability court after arriving in Islamabad from Lahore on a private plane.

Zia, who headed the Panama case Joint Investigation Team (JIT) that probed the Sharif family’s assets last year, has already testified in the Avenfield properties reference.

Zia informed the court about his appointment as the JIT’s head and the Supreme Court’s terms of reference with regards to the probe.

He said that the JIT work involved determining the ownership of the Sharif family’s assets.

Later, Nawaz was allowed to leave the courtroom while the hearing went into recess.

Nawaz and his family are facing three corruption cases in the accountability court after NAB filed references against them in light of the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Panama Papers case last year.

On Wednesday, hearing the Avenfield reference, Accountability Court-I Judge Mohammad Bashir had remarked that the decisions on all three references against the accused will be given together.

The testimonies of the prosecution witnesses in the Avenfield case was completed at the last hearing.

Moreover, on Thursday, the Supreme Court extended the deadline, for the second time, to conclude the corruption cases until June 9.

The corruption cases

The trial against the Sharif family had commenced on September 14, 2017 with a six-month deadline.
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.

NAB had earlier filed interim references in all three cases and later added supplementary references to them with new evidence and witnesses.

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.

Later, on May 9, the trial court’s second plea for a deadline extension was approved by the Supreme Court which gave a month to both sides to finish the corruption cases.