The defence counsel of deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif argued on Monday that the report by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) should not be used to direct proceedings of the corruption trial as the court needs to forge its own path.
The accountability court in Islamabad resumed the hearing of the references filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against the Sharif family. Judge Mohammad Bashir presided over the hearing. The former premier’s counsel, Khawaja Haris, submitted a plea on behalf of Nawaz and Maryam seeking a seven-day exemption from the case.
The court, however, granted a three-day exemption to the deposed premier and his daughter in view of Begum Kulsoom’s deteriorating health. Nawaz’s legal team submitted the medical records along with the petition.
“Prosecution has to to be specific on who counts in the Sharif family and who has a role in it. Defence needs to be specified,” he added. “Nawaz isn’t involved in the Al Tawfiq case or the London properties nor was he involved in any of the transactions.”
In arguments related to the steel mills of Dubai, Haris said that the JIT and its head, Wajid Zia, pointed that there was no record of a transaction worth AED12 million, however, the documents Zia reads from have already been submitted in court. “Why should a witness read the documents again and again? A witness can’t read them out, he is going beyond his scope, and this part of his statement should be kept out of evidence as it is implied opinion without evidence,” he argued.
The defence counsel further stated that the JIT report can not be made part of the evidence, as implied before, because it contains opinions and inferences of the investigation team. Furthermore, Haris argued, “It is the court’s job to draw inferences, JIT can’t state that such and such documents need to be produced, that’s the court job. The JIT being an investigative team, canot ask the defence to produce documents.”
Over non-production of documents by the accused before the investigation team, the defence further said that it was uncalled for as Nawaz isn’t associated with Dubai steel mills among others. “JIT’s opinion should be kept out of evidence.”
He also stated that Tariq Shafi and Abdullah Ehli among others were not made part of the proceedings and were not made part of references and the defence had no opportunity to cross-examine them. “There is ambiguity with regards to their role in the case.”
“Only what the accused submitted in court can be used against them, nothing else,” Haris argued. “It’s JIT’s mala fide to include the whole Sharif family in the case. Whenever they fail to mention a specific role, they say Sharif family. Nawaz is being charged under Section 9A5 of the Accountability Ordinance of 1999 but no specific role has been attached to him.”