ISLAMABAD – The Islamabad High Court acquitted former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the Avenfield reference on Wednesday, in what is viewed as a huge legal triumph for the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.
The court also dismissed the National Accountability Bureau’s appeal in the Flagship reference against the PML-N leader’s acquittal, which had been withdrawn by the accountability agency.
A two-judge panel led by IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and including Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb issued the ruling.
Nawaz Sharif told reporters outside the court that he had committed the matter to Almighty God, who had vindicated him. “Also, in Al-Azizia reference, I’ve left the matter to Almighty God,” the three-time premier continued.
During the two-hour hearing on Wednesday, the court heard arguments from both sides and acquitted former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Amjad Pervez, Nawaz Sharif’s attorney, reminded the court at the start of the hearings that the co-accused in the case, Maryam Nawaz and Capt (r) Safdar, had been acquitted earlier this year.
“The allegations leveled against them included aiding the crime,” he said. The acquittal of the co-accused by the Islamabad High Court is definitive.”
When Nawaz revealed his assets to the appropriate authorities, his attorney questioned the court if his client had to state the price of the assets when they were bought.
The lawyer also noted examples where the value of the assets was known but not the revenue, stating that in such circumstances, the court determined that the case could not be brought since the income was unknown.
while Justice Aurangzeb asked the lawyer what the prosecution should establish first while making its case, the counsel said that the prosecution should first prove that the accused was an officeholder, followed by two other things.
The accountability watchdog, according to Nawaz Sharif’s attorney, was unable to show anything. “Neither in the Panama verdict, JIT nor in NAB investigation reports could NAB prove Nawaz Sharif’s relationship with the property,” he went on to say.
The lawyer, ex-FIA DG Wajid Zia, also agreed that there was no proof proving Nawaz Sharif’s connection to the properties.
Nawaz Sharif’s attorney responded by saying that it was the NAB’s job to establish that Nawaz had paid for the property.
When IHC CJ Justice Farooq inquired if all of this was the prosecution’s responsibility. Nawaz’s lawyer responded in the affirmative.
Later, in the Avenfield case, the court acquitted Nawaz Sharif.
In the Avenfield case, Nawaz Sharif was convicted in July 2018 by a trial court of having assets other than recognized sources of income. He was sentenced to ten years in prison and fined around Rs1.3 billion.