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Grieving Nawaz exempted from court appearance for three days.

Byline: Malik Asad

ISLAMABAD -- Accountability court judge Mohammad Arshad Malik, who resumed the trial proceedings in the Al-Azizia reference on Monday, exempted former prime minister Nawaz Sharif from personal appearance before it till Wednesday.

Defence counsel Khawaja Haris submitted an application to the accountability court judge, informing him that Mr Sharif was still in grief over the demise of his wife and people from all walks of life met him every day to offer their condolences.

The counsel said Mr Sharif needed some time to compose himself, requesting the court to exempt his personal attendance for five days.

Special prosecutor of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Wasiq Malik, on the other hand, opposed the application, saying that there was no provision in the law to exempt an accused from attending the court proceedings on account of grief.

Accountability court resumes proceedings in Al-Azizia reference

He suggested that Mr Sharif's appearance before the court could be exemApted only for Monday, but he should not be given a five-day exemption.

Judge Malik, however, granted a three-day exemption as Mr Haris assured the court that the trial proceedings would not be affected because of Mr Sharif's absence.

The court then continued with the cross-examination of Wajid Zia, the star prosecution witness and head of the Supreme Court-constituted Joint Investigation Team.

Mr Zia said that one of the bank statements of Mr Sharif was obtained from Standard Chartered Bank's Wapda Town branch in Lahore, but it was stamped by the bank branch situated in Sector F-7, Islamabad.

During the hearing, the NAB's key witness said that he had seen the Standard Chartered Bank statement from pages 185 to 197 of volume 6 of the JIT report which did not bear the stamp of any bank officer. He, however, voluntarily added that the documents bore the stamp of the bank.

Subsequently, he admitted that Mr Sharif's bank statement pertained to the bank's Wapda Town branch and that it was also correct that there was no stamp of the bank's Wapda Town branch on the documents. Instead, he said, the stamp on the documents was of Standard Chartered Bank's F-7 branch, Islamabad.

The witness conceded that as per the JIT investigation the account was never maintained with the Islamabad branch and it could not be ascertained from the statement of account as to who had appended the bank's stamp on the documents or on which date the stamp was affixed. In addition, Mr Zia said the documents did not bear any certificate of attestation and he had not recorded the statement of any bank official who had affixed the stamp on the statement of account.

Referring to some other statements of accounts pertaining to different branches of Standard Chartered Bank Limited that are placed in JIT's volume 6, Mr Zia said the documents also did not bear any certification, stamp of any bank official, stamp of the branch concerned or date under the stamp of Standard Chartered Bank's F-7 branch affixed on them. He said the JIT did not record the statement of any person who might have affixed the stamps on the documents.

The JIT head said that photocopies of the bank documents were not attested in accordance with the set procedure for attestation nor the certificate to this affect was procured, saying that 'I am not aware of certificate required under the Bankers Books Evidence Act, 1891'.

The court will continue its proceedings on Tuesday.
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Publication:Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Sep 25, 2018
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