Panamagate hearing: SC orders NAB to submit Hudaibiya reference record on Dar's 'confession'Pakistan
As the Panamagate case hearing resumed on Friday, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar's lawyer Shahid Hamid addressed allegations against his client pertaining to the Hudaibiya Paper Mills default reference investigated by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Hamid stated the allegations against the defendant claim that Dar submitted a confessional statement regarding money laundering before the magistrate on April 25, 2000.
Allegations against Dar also claim he admitted to money laundering of $14.86 million, and opening two bank accounts under the names of Sikandar Masood Qazi and Talat Masood Qazi for Nawaz Sharif's brother, Hamid said.
Justice Gulzar Ahmed asked if Dar denied his confession, to which Hamid assented, saying that Dar had denied his statement completely.
Hamid read from Dar's confessional statement in court: "After the military coup, I was first kept under house arrest then was offered a position in that government in exchange for cooperation."
"I was made to sign a pre-written statement and then was arrested again."
"The army kept me captive till 2001, after which I told Rauf Klasra everything in a detailed interview and denied the statement that I was made to sign at the time," he finished.
After the statement was read, Justice Ejaz Afzal asserted that if the magistrate in front of whom the statement was read was unable to verify its authenticity, it would be no more than a piece of paper.
Hamid concurred, saying, "the statement is nothing more than a piece of paper."
At this Justice Asif Saeed Khosa intervened, saying the statement is not just a piece of paper but a part of evidence on which no action has been taken.
Justice Afzal wondered how the top court could have given such a verdict in a writ petition. Justice Khosa replied that the NAB reference had been discarded because the investigation was not conducted according to the law.
He added that the court had disposed of the case on the basis of technicalities.
NAB had made the same allegations in their case as the Federal Investigation Agency made in theirs, Hamid argued, adding that the court had already acquitted the defendants in a 1997 trial.
In 1997, the case against Dar was heard by a two-judge bench in an intra-court appeal which is ordinarily heard by a five-member bench, Justice Khosa remarked.
The 1992 protection law keeps the court from hearing a case in which the defendant has already been acquitted, Hamid replied.
Justice Khosa asked if Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was the premier and Ishaq Dar the minister for finance, to which Hamid replied that Dar was not the finance minister ? or even an MNA ? at the time.
The NAB chairman should have appealed in the Supreme Court in the case, Justice Ejaz Afzal observed, adding that the Supreme Court would have ordered a reinvestigation.
The NAB prosecutor general will be present in court to provide assistance with respect to Dar's case when the hearing resumes Monday, Justice Khosa said.
The apex court ordered that the NAB prosecutor general's record in the Hudaibiya Paper Mills reference regarding Dar's statement be submitted in court.
Justice Khosa posed a question in court directed towards the NAB prosecutor general, asking if Dar's acquittal before the court was conditional or unconditional, and whether the finance minister had been acquitted before he gave his statement or after.
Hamid responded that the statement had been recorded after Dar was acquitted, but he remained imprisoned from 1999 to 2000 even after his statement was recorded.
Khosa observed that Dar was not a suspect at the time his statement was recorded, adding that a person who is not guilty fights his case rather than accepting acquittal.
Earlier in the day, the prime minister's counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan requested the court for more time to produce documents pertaining to Mian Muhammad Sharif's will and the Sharif family's gifts.
Khan told the five-judge bench that he had informed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of the court's order to produce the necessary documents and requested time till Monday for submission of the documents.
Justice Khosa observed that although it was all over the media that Makhdoom Khan had not presented these details in court, he still needed time to submit them.
The PM's counsel reiterated that the defendant would provide the documents to court in some time.
The court conceded and gave Khan time till Monday to submit the documents.
Justice Khosa also said that the court would hear the case until the judges are fully satisfied.
The hearing has been adjourned till Monday.