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Hudaibiya Paper Mills case hearing to start from Monday

11 November, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar constituted a three-member Supreme Court bench on Friday to start hearing of the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case against Sharif family from Monday.

The bench comprises Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, Justice Dost Muhammad Khan and Justice Mazhar Alam Minakhel. The court also issued notices to the NAB prosecutor general.

It may be recalled that Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa had also headed the five-member Supreme Court bench which heard the Panama Papers case and disqualified Nawaz Sharif as prime minister in its July 28, 2017 verdict, besides directing the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to re-open Hudaibiya Paper Mills case against the Sharif family.

In its July 28, 2017 verdict in the Panama Papers case, the court had directed NAB to re-open Hudaibiya Paper Mills case. However, when it did not open the case, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad, chief of the Awami Muslim League, moved the apex court seeking its direction to the NAB to reopen the case.

The NAB then filed an appeal in the Supreme Court on September 20, 2017 against the Lahore High Court (LHC) decision wherein it had quashed the case on March 11, 2014 and acquitted all the accused including Nawaz Sharif in the case.

In its appeal, the NAB impleaded ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his brother and Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif’s son MNA Hamza Shehbaz and other members of the Sharif family as respondents.

The NAB has appealed the apex court to declare the LHC verdict null and void in the interest of justice, fair play and equity. In its appeal, NAB has argued that the referee judge was not ‘competent’ to set aside the findings of the high court, in which NAB had been allowed to re-initiate investigations against the Sharif family members.

The joint investigation team (JIT) formed by the Supreme Court to probe the Panama Papers case against Nawaz Sharif had recommended in its final report that the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case should be reopened.

In light of the JIT report, the Supreme Court in its verdict in the Panama Papers case had directed NAB to reopen the Hudaibiya case while filing references in other cases against the Sharif family. The court had expressed annoyance on NAB for not filing appeal against the LHC verdict in the Hudaibya case.

The Hudaibiya Paper Mills money laundering reference was initiated in 2000 on the basis of an April 25, 2000 confession statement of Ishaq Dar before a magistrate, wherein he had admitted his role in laundering money to the tune of $14.86 million on behalf of the Sharif family through fictitious accounts. The witness was, however, pardoned by the then NAB chairman. Hudaibiya Paper Mills was allegedly used as a cover by the Sharif family to launder the money outside the country in the 1990s.

LHC’s referee judge Justice Sardar Muhammad Shamim Khan had quashed the reference on March 11, 2014 on the grounds that if a re-investigation was allowed against the Sharif family, it would provide an opportunity to investigators to pad up lacunas.

The LHC had quashed the case as the PML-N continued to claim that Dar’s statement was taken under duress. Dar also had claimed that he had made the confessional statement in duress and had disowned the statement, being coerced.

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