JIT chief says MLA request to Saudi Arabia was ‘incomplete’

ISLAMABAD: The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) formed by the Supreme Court in the Panamagate case sent an ‘incomplete’ request for mutual legal assistance (MLA) to the Saudi government to get information about and documents of the company owned by Hussain Nawaz Sharif, the son of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

This was disclosed by the head of the JIT, Wajid Zia, during his cross-examination in the Al-Azizia/Hill Metal Establishment reference on Friday.

Mr Zia conceded before the accountability Judge Mohammad Arshad Malik that the MLA request sent to Saudi Arabia did not mention full name of the Hill Metal Establishment, the company owned by Hussain Nawaz.

He said the JIT did not even know the complete title of the company when it sent the MLA request to Saudi Arabia.

According to Mr Zia, the star prosecution witness, the JIT learnt that the actual title of the company was “Hill Modern Industry for Metal Establishment” when Hussain Nawaz produced some documents related to the company during his appearance before the JIT on June 3, 2017.

Mutual Legal Assistance request didn’t mention full title, address of Hussain Nawaz’s company, accountability court told

The JIT sent the MLA request to Saudi Arabia on May 31 last year, Mr Zia said.

“In the MLA [request] JIT did not provide complete address of this entity and mentioned only ‘Jeddah’,” the JIT chief said.

“The JIT had solicited the information from Saudi authorities through MLA deeming the entity as a company. All the documents solicited by the JIT from the Saudi authorities through MLA were with reference to Hill Metal Establishment” the witness testified.

He told the court about the appearance of Hussain Nawaz before the JIT. According to him, Hussain Nawaz told the investigation team that the Hill Metal Establishment was a sole proprietorship and it had expanded gradually.

The land for this entity was purchased at the end of 2005. Initially, an automatic shredder scrap processing plant was set up on the land. A steel melting facility was added in 2008 and two furnaces were attached in 2010 and 2014, Mr Zia said.

Referring to the documents provided by Hussain Nawaz to the JIT, its head said that the shredder scrap processing plant was set up at a cost of 0.5 million British pounds and the building was constructed at a cost of three to four million Saudi riyals.

The court adjourned proceedings till Monday when Khawaja Haris, the counsel for Nawaz Sharif, will continue cross-examination of Mr Zia.

IHC constitutes bench to hear Sharifs’ appeals

Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Mohammad Anwar Khan Kasi has constituted a two-member division bench to hear appeals the Sharif family has filed against their conviction in the Avenfield properties reference.

An IHC division bench comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb will hear the appeals and the petitions filed by Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired Capt Mohammad Safdar seeking suspension of their sentence.

Accountability Judge Mohammad Bashir on July 6 had awarded 10-year imprisonment to Nawaz Sharif, seven years to Maryam Nawaz and one year to Capt Safdar in the Avenfield reference.

The IHC bench on August 20 heard the petitions seeking suspension of sentence but deferred the decision for an indefinite period.

Published in Dawn, September 8th, 2018



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