Al-Azizia reference: Zia denies writing verification letter to Saudi govt

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Al-Azizia reference: Zia denies writing verification letter to Saudi govt

ISLAMABAD: An accountability court resumed hearing of the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday.

 

As the hearing went under way today, Nawaz was presented in Accountability Judge Arshad Malik’s court.

 

The defence continued the cross-examination of prosecution witness Wajid Zia.

 

Today marks a year since the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) filed three corruption references against the Sharif family.

 

During the hearing, Zia read Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) documents from the sealed volume ten — obtained from the Supreme Court — to answer the defence lawyer’s questions.

 

The NAB witness apprised the court that according to the documents, the Hill Metal Establishment is associated with the steel industry. He further said that Nawaz’s son Hussain appeared before the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) on June 3, after which, he was included in the probe.

 

Zia further said that neither did he write a letter to the Saudi government to verify the information provided by Hussain, nor confirmed the registration number of the company that the latter had provided.

 

According to the NAB witness, a few documents provided by Hussain were in Arabic. Haris then inquired if Zia could understand the language. To this, the latter responded in affirmative, stating that he had spent some time in the Kingdom hence he was somewhat acquainted with the language.

 

Furthermore, Zia apprised the court that it was important to ascertain whether Hill Metal Establishment was a sole proprietorship or partnership. He also stated that this question was not specifically included in the MLA.

 

Later, the hearing was adjourned till September 10.

 

The trial

The trial against the Sharif family commenced on September 14, 2017.

 

On July 6, after four extensions in the original six-month deadline to conclude all three cases, the court announced its verdict in the Avenfield reference.

 

Nawaz and his sons, Hussain and Hasan, are accused in all three references whereas Maryam and Safdar were 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.

 

On July 10, the Supreme Court granted another six-week extension for Accountability Court-I Judge Mohammad Bashir to conclude the remaining corruption references against Nawaz and former finance minister Ishaq Dar.

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