Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Maryam Nawaz on Saturday released a video that purportedly showed an accountability court judge admitting that he had been blackmailed into convicting former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a corruption case, The Express Tribune reported.
Maryam Nawaz released the video at a press conference in Lahore along with senior leaders of the party. She claimed the video featured a conversation between Nasir Butt, who she described as a loyal fan of her father, and accountability judge Arshad Malik, Dawn reported. Scroll.in has not independently verified the video.
In December, Malik had sentenced Sharif to seven years in jail in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption case. The court had, however, cleared him in the Flagship Investment case.
The judge allegedly tells Butt that there was no evidence of corruption against Sharif and the premise of disproportionate assets was flawed as there were no assets that could be legally associated with the former prime minister with documentary evidence, The Express Tribune reported.
“If the assets were determined on the basis of the former prime minister’s tax returns and if they were incorrect, it was at best a case that should have been dealt under tax laws,” the judge allegedly said in the video.
Maryam Nawaz claimed that the judge was heard saying in the video that Sharif was convicted even though “there is no allegation of financial corruption” in the case. “There is no evidence that any money was taken from any department,” she quoted Malik as saying. “No evidence that a single penny has been shifted from Pakistan, no evidence of shifting any money by accused from Pakistan.”
Maryam Nawaz alleged that the judge had contacted Butt and told him that he was feeling “guilt” and “having nightmares” after announcing the “unjust verdict” against Sharif. She claimed the judge invited Butt to his residence, where the video was recorded.
The judge acknowledged that he had been “blackmailed” with a private video of him shot 10 years ago and “pressured” into passing the judgement against Sharif.
Video clip will be sent for forensic audit: Government spokesperson
Pakistan government’s chief spokesperson, Firdous Ashiq Awan, condemned the allegations against Malik. “You [Maryam] have not accused one judge but the entire judiciary,” Dawn quoted Awan as saying. Awan said recording a person without their consent was a crime.
The spokesperson said a the video clip will be sent for a forensic audit. “The judge’s conversation and the contents’ credibility will be evaluated,” she said. “Are they real or tampered? Credible? True or false? It will only be determined after the audit. We will hide nothing from the people.”
Awan claimed that Nasir Butt, who Malik spoke to, was a murderer and a member of a drug ring. He allegedly escaped to London after committing five murders. “They [PML-N] had all cases against him removed, brought the absconder back to the country and used him to do such despicable acts.”