IHC acquits Nawaz Sharif in Avenfield reference

IHC acquits Nawaz Sharif in Avenfield reference


Elated former PM says Almighty God has vindicated him

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ISLAMABAD (Dunya News) – Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was on Wednesday acquitted in the Avenfield reference by the Islamabad High Court in what is being seen as a major legal victory for the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.

The court also dismissed the plea filed by the National Accountability Bureau in the Flagship reference against the PML-N leader’s acquittal after the accountability watchdog withdrew it.

The verdict was announced by a two-judge bench headed by IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and comprising Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb.

Interacting with media outside the court, Nawaz Sharif said he had entrusted the matter to Almighty God who has vindicated him. “Also in Al-Azizia reference, I’ve left the matter to Almighty God,” added the three-time premier.

Commenting on the high court’s verdict, PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz, who had recently been acquitted along with her spouse Captain (r) Muhammad Safdar in the Avenfield reference, wrote on X, "When a person, despite enduring injustice, entrusts their affairs to Allah Almighty, then He makes the person triumphant in the eyes of the whole world. This is an example of gratitude, praise be to Allah!"

During Wednesday’s hearing, the court heard the arguments of the two sides that lasted two hours, and later acquitted former premier Nawaz Sharif.

At the outset of the proceedings, Amjad Pervez, the counsel for Nawaz Sharif, informed the court that the co-accused in the case, Maryam Nawaz and Capt (r) Safdar, had been acquitted earlier this year.

He stated, “The allegations levelled against them included aiding the crime. Islamabad High Court’s acquittal of the co-accused is final.”

Nawaz’s counsel asked the court whether or not his client had to mention the price of the assets when they had been purchased when he disclosed his assets to the relevant authorities.

The lawyer also mentioned that there had been cases in which the value of the assets was known, but not the income, noting that in such cases, the court had declared that the case could not be made because the income was not known.

When Justice Aurangzeb asked the counsel about the first thing the prosecution should prove when making its case, the counsel replied that the prosecution should first prove that the accused was an officeholder and he had listed two more things.

Nawaz Sharif’s counsel remarked that accountability watchdog had not been able to prove anything. “Neither in the Panama verdict, JIT nor in NAB investigation reports could NAB prove Nawaz Sharif's relationship with the property,” he added.

Ex-FIA DG Wajid Zia, the lawyer, also admitted that there was no evidence that proved Nawaz Sharif’s relationship to the properties.

Upon this, Nawaz Sharif’s counsel stated that it was the NAB’s responsibility to prove that Nawaz had paid for the property.

When IHC CJ Justice Farooq asked whether all of this was the prosecution’s job. Nawaz’s counsel replied in the affirmative.

Later the court acquitted Nawaz Sharif in the Avenfield reference.

In July 2018, a trial court convicted Nawaz Sharif in the Avenfield reference for owning assets beyond known sources of income. He had been awarded 10 years in jail along with a fine of approximately Rs1.3 billion.

Both Nawaz and his daughter Maryam were arrested in Lahore in July 2018 on their return from London.

Later in December same year, Nawaz was awarded a seven-year jail term and a fine of Rs1.5 billion in the Al-Azizia reference by a NAB court.

Nawaz was diagnosed with an immune system disorder while serving the sentence in the Al-Azizia reference and was therefore permitted to proceed abroad for treatment.

Subsequently, an IHC bench, headed by Justice Farooq, dismissed his appeals against conviction on June 24, 2021, for his failure to attend proceedings.

Upon his return to Pakistan back in October, Nawaz surrendered before the court, requesting his appeals be restored.