Islamabad, Feb 23: Pakistan's ousted premier Nawaz Sharif said it was slowly becoming clear that the corruption cases filed against him were "baseless" as he appeared before an anti-graft court for 19th time to face trial in the graft cases linked to the Panama Papers scandal.
The 67-year-old Sharif, who was disqualified as PML-N chief by the Supreme Court on Wednesday, appeared before the the Accountability Court here along with his daughter Maryam and son-in-law Mohammad Safdar, who are co-accused in one of the three cases.
The court recorded evidence of two witnesses including forensic expert Robert Radley and Raja Akhtar of the London-based firm Quist law through video-link. National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had provided their names in the supplementary evidence which the court accepted by rejecting objections of the defence team. Radley's recording of evidence began yesterday and was concluded today after he was cross-examined by Sharifs counsel Khawaja Harris. Akhtar also recorded his statement.
Talking to reporters after the hearing, Sharif said there was nothing in the case and the statement of Radley had strengthened the argument of defence lawyers. "You (journalists) must have a fair idea whether our stance has been strengthened or that of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT)," Sharif said.
JIT, whose lengthy probe last year led the Supreme Court to order start of corruption cases against Sharif and his family, was led by Wajid Zia. "We are getting answers to the JIT's questions that are slowly coming forward, and people are realising now that the cases are baseless," Sharif said. He also lashed out at the courts, saying after removing him as prime minister and president of his party "there will be another decision soon to ban him from taking part in elections for life".
Sharif's daughter took to social media and stated that Radley's statement was a "watershed" moment in the case. "I was waiting for the day. I knew the witness they were banking on would be their watershed. I knew he could not lie. I had faith in Allah," she tweeted. A five-member bench of the Supreme Court on July 28 had disqualified Sharif over his undeclared income.
The apex court also directed the NAB to file cases against him, and his children in the Accountability Court and directed the trial court to decide the cases within six months. The NAB had filed three cases on September 8 against Sharif and his family, and another case against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. The three cases against the Sharifs are related to the Flagship Investment Ltd, the Avenfield (London) properties and Jeddah-based Al-Azizia Company and Hill Metal Establishment.
Maryam and her husband are accused in the Avenfield properties case. The political future of Sharif, who leads the country's most powerful political family, has been hanging in balance since his disqualification. If convicted, Sharif could be jailed. Sharif's family alleges that the cases are politically motivated.