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Court dismisses Sharif’s lawyer plea challenging NAB witness inclusion

ISLAMABAD: The accountability court resumed hearing of Al Azizia Steel Mills graft reference against former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his sons on Thursday.

Judge Mohammad Bashir is conducting trial proceedings.

As the proceedings went underway, Sharif’s lawyer Ayesha Hamid objected to inclusion of Noreen Shahzad in the witness record, contending that Shahzad has been failed to produce an authority letter from her employer to become a witness in the case.

The defence lawyer asserted that the documents submitted by Shahzad could not be made part of the case.

The counsel said Shahzad’s name was nowhere in the witnesses list of National Accountability Bureau (NAB), besides the prosecution did not notify the defence lawyer about addition of Noreen Shahzad as a witness.

The defence lawyer also submitted a plea challenging the inclusion of Shahzad in the witness list.

The NAB prosecutor opposed the plea, stating that Shahzad did not appear as a witness but only provided details of Sharif family bank accounts’ transactions.

The court dismissed the defence lawyer’s plea in its verdict.

Earlier on Wednesday, the court accepted a plea filed by NAB seeking inclusion of documents provided by Noreen Shahzad, who replaced Malik Tayyab Ahmed as branch manager of a private bank, in the witness record.

Last hearing

At the last hearing, NAB witness Malik Tayyab Ahmed on Wednesday testified against former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members.

Accountability Judge Mohammad Bashir heard Azizia Steel Mills graft reference filed by the NAB in compliance with Supreme Court’s landmark July 28 verdict.

Advocate Zafir Khan Tareen represented Sharif in his absence after the court granted him a week-long exemption from personal appearance before the court.

Tayyab, who is associated with a private bank, shared the details of Sharif and his sons Hassan and Hussain Nawaz’s bank transactions that were carried out over the years.

The witness said Sharif withdrew $2,200 on February 7, 2017, and transferred $600,000 to his Pakistani currency account between March to May 2017.

The prosecution witness also provided details of Sharif family’s accounts in Euro and Pound Currencies.

He said Sharif’s eldest son Hussain transferred £25,000 to his father’s account in December 2010 and the same amount was transferred by Sharif to his Pakistani currency account in 2015.

Ahmed said Sharif had transferred £10 to his Pakistani currency account twice in 2016, adding, Hussain had transferred €1.1 million to Nawaz’s account in 2010 and €40,000 in 2012.

Meanwhile, Sharif issued five cheques worth €900,000 and transferred the amount to his Pakistani currency account on September 23, 2010, besides transferring €210,000 in April 2012 and €190,000 in November 2015, the prosecution witness informed the court.

The NAB also filed an application seeking inclusion of documents provided by Noreen Shahzad, who replaced Ahmed as branch manager of a private bank, in the witness record.

To which, Sharif’s lead counsel Hamid asked in what capacity Noreen Shahzad submitted documents to the court while pleading the court to delay the next hearing until it takes a decision regarding Shahzad’s inclusion in the case.

The accountability judge accepted the NAB plea. The court will resume hearing into the reference and recording the statement of NAB witness after reaching to a decision on the matter.

Al-Azizia steel mills Reference

The anti-corruption watchdog has nominated Sharif and his two sons – Hasan and Hussain Nawaz – in two references regarding the Aziza Steel Mills, Hill Metals Establishment, and nearly dozen other companies owned by the Sharif family.

Ousted PM Sharif could face lifetime disqualification from holding a public office including the freezing of bank accounts, besides 14 years imprisonment on conviction in the references.



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