ISLAMABAD - The accountability court, on the request of the counsel for former premier Nawaz Sharif, Tuesday directed Wajid Zia, head of the joint investigation team that probed the Panama Papers case, to get Volume 10 of the JIT report from the Supreme Court.

When the trial court resumed hearing of the Avenfield properties corruption reference, Sharif’s counsel, Khawaja Haris, cross-examined Wajid Zia and asked him if he would file an application requesting the Supreme Court to unseal Volume 10 of the JIT report. He replied he would surely file an application in the apex court to unseal Volume 10. He added it was also in his notice that during the hearing of the Panamagate case, Volume 10 had been shown to the lawyers.

Answering a question, Zia said it was not correct to say that Volume 10 of the JIT report was submitted to the court sealed; instead, the apex court was requested verbally by the JIT in the open court to seal it. Zia said he was unaware of any written order of the Supreme Court to seal Volume 10. “I have not seen the sealed copy of Volume 10. The JIT had presented five copies of Volume 10 to the Supreme Court,” said Zia, adding one sealed copy was also available with the JIT for office record. He further said various questions could be easily answered after unsealing the volume.

Harris questioned Zia how many letters were written in connection with the mutual legal assistance (MLA) to Central Authority, International Cooperation Department and Ministry of Justice, Dubai. Zia answered seven letters were sent to the department; four were sent together and the rest on different dates. He revealed all the record pertaining to the mutual legal assistance had been sealed. He said four letters for mutual legal assistance pertained to Gulf Steel Mills and Tariq Shafi.

Meanwhile, during the prayer break, Accountability Court Judge Muhammad Bashir said to Harris, “You have exhausted Wajid Zia during the cross-questioning, so you have to serve him tea”. To this, Amjad Pervez, counsel for Maryam Nawaz, said, “Should we serve him tea?”

Later, the defence cross-questioned Zia if the JIT tried to find out what happened to the remaining 25 percent shares of the Gulf Steel Mills after it was sold out in 1978. Zia said answer to this query was on page 37 of the report, stating the remaining 25 percent shares were sold out from 1978 to 1986.

He also said 14 million dirhams were paid in connection with the remaining 25 percent shares of Ahli Steels Mills. He, however, affirmed no specific documents or evidence were available to prove that these shares were sold out from 1978 to 1986. Harris questioned how the JIT presumed that these shares were sold from 1978 to 1986. Zia answered Tariq Shafi opened an account in 1986 in BCCI; it could only happen when the old remaining debt amount stood settled because no bank could reopen the account until the outstanding amount had been paid out. The opening of the new bank account showed outstanding debts were cleared, Zia stated, adding the JIT did not receive any record to prove that Tariq Shafi had paid the outstanding debt amounts.  Earlier, the trial court accepted the application of Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz for exemption from appearance on the ground that they could not travel from Lahore due to an inclement weather.