ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who has been recording his statement in the Al-Azizia Steels Mills reference under Section 342 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) in the court of Accountability Judge Arshad Malik, on Thursday refused to present arguments in his defence.
Nawaz, who had been disqualified last year for holding assets beyond known income, maintained that the references were filed against him as “political revenge” by his opponents and claimed that the prosecution has failed to prove the allegations against him.
He reiterated that the case was formed against him on the basis of allegations levelled by his political opponents and “biased” report of the Supreme Court-mandated Panamagate Joint Investigation Team (JIT) which “incorrectly showed him as the owner of Al-Azizia Steel Mill and Hill Metal Establishment”. He added that even the top court had expressed its dissatisfaction with the report and sent the matter to the trial court so there are no doubts.
Judge Malik then asked Nawaz, “Why was this case formed and why did witnesses record statements against you?”
In response, the former premier said, “This case was run on the basis of assumptions. This case was started on allegations of money laundering, tax theft and corruption and after strict accountability, it was turned into a case of owing assets beyond known sources of income.”
While recording his statement, Nawaz said, “I am not going to present my defence in the Al-Azizia Steel Mill reference. A baseless case was formed against me and the prosecution has failed to prove the allegations.”
“Whenever a politician is booked under the typical charges of assets beyond means, it basically means that the accusers have no proof of their accusations,” he claimed, adding that efforts were made to implicate him in matters that “had nothing to do with him”.
Nawaz said that he was neither the real owner nor a benamidaar of Al-Azizia Steel Mill or Hill Metal Establishment and prosecution had also failed to prove otherwise. He claimed, “I did not send any money from Pakistan to my sons for foreign education, living or business.”
“My sons are financially independent adults and have been managing their business in compliance with the laws of the country [England] they reside in; therefore, it just did not make any sense to tie their financial dealings with his.” Besides, the prosecution has also failed to prove that he was the guardian of Hasan and Hussain Nawaz, the former premier added.
“NAB [national Accountability Bureau] has also failed to present evidence proving that my sons were benamidaars of Al-Azizia Steel Mill or Hill Metal Establishment,” he further claimed.
“There was not a single proof of wrongdoing presented during the course of this never-ending investigation,” he claimed. The former premier argued that no other witness except for the JIT head and investigation officer gave statements against him.
“Their statements are not acceptable testimonies; however, they had both accepted that there were no documents to prove that I was the owner of Al-Azizia Steel Mill and Hill Metal Establishment,” Nawaz claimed. He also shared that Al-Azizia Steel Mill was established by his father in 2001 and Hussain Nawaz was 29 years old at that time.
Nawaz pleaded before the court that he had “sacrificed politically, socially and domestically to prove his innocence before the law because his conscience and his political career spanning four decades was clean”.
The former PM claimed that as far as this case was concerned, the NAB judge and the entire world were aware of what had been going on in the name of ‘accountability’ for the past two and half years. There is no precedent of such accountability in the entire history of the country, he added.
Nawaz Sharif has been recording his statement in Al-Aziza Steels Mills reference for the last few hearings wherein he had to provide answers to 151 questions, however, he has only answered 147 questions and sought more time to answer remaining four “complicated” questions in the last hearing.
The top court on Monday granted another “final” extension of three weeks to the accountability court for concluding corruption references against the Sharif family.
The apex court had previously granted six extensions to the accountability court to conclude the trials.
In October, the apex court had ordered the accountability court to finalise both references by Nov 17, adding that it will be the ‘final’ extension and the court will be held accountable if the trial is not concluded by then.