No direct evidence links PM with properties in question: SC

 
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ISLAMABAD JULY 19 (TNS): Head of the special three-member Supreme Court bench Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan said on Wednesday they have to see if there is anything in the records linking the premier to the case.

Panama case implementation bench observed that no direct evidence links the prime minister’s ownership with any of the properties in question.

The special implementation bench, headed by Justice Ejaz and comprising Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, began hearing the case around 9:30am. The bench repeatedly inquired from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s counsel regarding the money trail of the London properties.

After the hearing began, Harris argued before the bench that the prime minister was not asked about any of his assets. “If the JIT had something [related to his assets], they would have asked questions,” he said. The prime minister’s counsel read out his statement given to the JIT. Harris said the premier has no assets other than those he has declared.

Justice Ijaz remarked that the prime minister said he would provide a money trail of all the properties but he did not explain when he bought the properties and where he generated funds for their purchase. Everything is clear except for the ownership of the London properties, observed the bench.

The prime minister’s counsel said the prime minister is not the owner of the London flats. The premier’s counsel further claimed that the JIT report does not term the prime minister a benamidar, adding that the JIT has stated that the flats are the entire Sharif family’s.

Justice Ijaz remarked that the question as to how the funds reached London from Dubai, Qatar and Saudi Arabia has still not been answered. He commented further that if the main question [of the money trail] is answered, the matter will be settled.

Harris claimed that the premier’s late father, Mian Sharif, used to handle the family’s business affairs. Justice Ijaz remarked that the prime minister knew what he was saying in the National Assembly when he claimed he would provide the money trail of the London flats.

“The tragedy is that there are no documents to prove who the real owner of the London properties is,” remarked Justice Azmat.

While concluding his arguments, Harris requested the bench to note that Nawaz Sharif, during his entire term in public office in the last four decades, has not been accused of any corruption or financial misappropriation.

Presenting his arguments, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s counsel Tariq Hassan informed the bench that the JIT unnecessarily dragged his client into the case.

The bench came down hard on Hassan, observing that his client refused to provide the JIT with the necessary documents to support his case.

When Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s counsel Dr Tariq Hassan began his arguments before the bench but the court went into recess shortly after.

As the hearing resumed, the bench directed the counsel for the premier’s children, Salman Akram Raja, to present his arguments saying they want to hear him first.

He informed the court that some new records have been obtained, which will be submitted to the court in a day or two. As a result, Hassan began presenting his arguments. Justice Ejaz hoped counsel will not take up much time today as he had ample time to prepare his arguments.

Answering a question from the bench, Hassan claimed Imran Khan’s petition did not directly accuse Ishaq Dar of anything. He also said the JIT had wrongly accused the finance minister of not submitting his tax returns of 2001-02, adding that these findings could lead to a trial against his client. Justice Ijaz remarked that counsel will be given a complete chance to defend his client if the matter goes to trial.