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Panama case: Sharif says no proof of any wrongdoing

Press Trust of India, Islamabad, Jan 3 2018, 15:46 IST
Pakistan's ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Reuters file photo

Pakistan's ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Reuters file photo

Pakistan's ousted premier Nawaz Sharif today claimed he was disqualified by the Supreme Court on flimsy grounds and said there was no proof of any wrongdoing by him, after appearing in the anti-graft court trying him for alleged corruption in three cases.

The cases are related to the Panama Papers scandal that had forced the three-time prime minister to resign.

"They have not been able to prove any crime against me yet," he said.

Sharif, 67, said he was disqualified on flimsy grounds and alleged efforts were on to find "evidence of any wrongdoing by me".

The cases were launched on September 8 following the Supreme Court verdict of July 28 that disqualified Sharif as prime minister and ordered the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for the institution of cases against him.

Accountability court judge Muhammad Bashir conducted the hearing against Sharif, his daughter Maryam, and son-in-law Muhammad Safdar.

The court later adjourned the hearing till January 9.

The former premier, who had left for Saudi Arabia on December 30 amid reports of a "deal" with Pakistan's powerful military, returned home yesterday along with his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif.

The NAB produced two new witnesses in court who recorded their evidence and the defence lawyer also cross-examined them. A third witness who had already appeared also was recalled to provide additional documents.

After the hearing, Sharif again lambasted his political rival Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan who was given bail by an anti-terror court yesterday in four cases pertaining to violence during his protest march in 2014.

He also criticised the Supreme Court for quashing a corruption case against Khan last month.

"Khan had admitted fraud but still his apology was accepted by the court," Sharif said.

He also criticised opponents for politicising his recent visit to Saudi Arabia and said they were trying to damage Pakistan's historical ties with the kingdom.

The three cases against the Sharif family pertain to the Al-Azizia Steel Mills, several companies including Flagship Investment Ltd, and London's Avenfield properties.

Sharif and his sons, Hassan and Hussain, have been named in all three NAB cases, while Maryam and her husband Safdar have been named only in the Avenfield case.

In November, Sharif was indicted in all three cases while Maryam and Safdar, co-accused with Sharif in only one case, were also indicted.

Sharif reached the court here along with his daughter before the start of proceedings.

Cabinet members and leaders of Sharif's ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party were present at the court.

The previous hearing in the case was held on December 19. The court has held 16 hearings each of the Flagship Investment and Avenfield properties references, and 20 of Al-Azizia Steel Mills.

This was the 11th time that Sharif attended the hearing. So far 10 witnesses have recorded their statements on behalf of the prosecution.

Elaborate security measures were taken on the occasion of Sharif's appearance in court.

The political future of Sharif, who heads the country's most powerful political family and the ruling PML-N party, has been hanging in the balance since his ouster. If convicted, he could be jailed.

Sharif's family alleges that the cases are politically motivated.

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