Pakistan

ISLAMABAD – The accountability court on Thursday again postponed the testimony of a star witness in the trial of former finance minister Ishaq Dar – Panama Papers’s Joint Investigation Team (JIT) head Wajid Zia – due to non-availability of JIT’s final report.

Judge Mohammad Bashir resumed hearing of the case against Dar regarding possessing assets beyond means after Zia made his maiden appearance in the court as a prosecution witness.

As the hearing began, Zia informed the court that the final report of the JIT was submitted to the Supreme Court. The JIT head added that he did not possess the report.

In response, the judge observed that they will ask the registrar of SC one more time to provide the JIT report.

However, the court has again summoned Zia on Feb 12 for recording his statement

Earlier this month, the judge asked the prosecution counsel to bring Zia and investigation officer Nadir Abbas for recording their statements.

The NAB Prosecutor, Imran Shafique, pleaded the court to summon both these witnesses, but Judge Mohammad Bashir refused to issue the summons, stating that it was the duty of NAB to bring them to court as they are its witnesses.

The testimony of the JIT was, earlier, postponed after the NAB asked the court to requisition the relevant material from the Supreme Court before recording Zia’s statement.

It is to mention that the SC constituted the JIT, headed by Wajid Zia, to investigate former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family in the light of Panama Papers leaks.

Zia had submitted a detailed report to the apex court after interrogating members of Sharif family and others. Afterwards, the court had disqualified Nawaz Sharif as prime minister on July 28, 2017.

NAB Reference

According to the NAB reference, the accused had acquired assets and pecuniary interests/resources in his name or in the name of his dependents of an approximate amount of Rs831.678 million as per the investigation conducted so far.

The assets are disproportionate to his known sources of income for which he could not reasonably account for, the reference said.

Indictment

On September 27, the former finance minister had been indicted for possessing assets beyond his known sources of income.

Dar had rejected the allegations levelled by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in its reference prepared following the orders of the Supreme Court in its July 28 verdict in Panamagate case.

Proclaimed Offender

The accountability court declared former finance minister Ishaq Dar a proclaimed offender in a corruption case regarding possession of assets beyond means.

Judge Mohammad Bashir had announced the decision after the former finance minister did not attend the court hearings continuously as he is in London for medical treatment. He has skipped the last six hearings of the case.