IHC acquits Nawaz Sharif in Avenfield reference 

IHC acquits Nawaz Sharif in Avenfield reference 

Islamabad (Web Desk): The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday acquitted Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo and former premier Nawaz Sharif in Avenfield reference.

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

The court also disposed of the plea filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the Flagship reference against the PML-N supremo after it was withdrawn by the accountability watchdog.

During the hearing, former premier's lawyer Amjad Pervez argued that NAB had to prove that Nawaz Sharif paid for the purchase of properties.

"The most important thing is the question of the ownership of these properties. There is no verbal or documentary evidence that these properties were ever owned by Nawaz Sharif and that the children are under his guardianship, the lawyer said adding that all these things have to be proved by the prosecution.

Amjad maintained that there is no evidence that the properties are in the ownership or custody of Nawaz Sharif.

Referring to the cross-examination of Wajid Zia, Pervaiz said Zia had also said there was no evidence to link Nawaz with the properties.

IHC CJ Justice Farooq asked whether all of this was the prosecution’s job. At this, the lawyer said, “yes”, this is the prosecution’s job.

Justice Gul Hassan said that this court gave a decision that four elements must be proved for anonymity, even one of these four must be proved. If not, he will not fall into the category of anonymity.

After hearing the arguments, the court announced a brief judgment in the case and acquitted Nawaz Sharif by declaring the sentence awarded in the Avenfield reference null and void.

Talking to the media outside IHC following the verdict, Nawaz Sharif expressed gratitude to Allah Almighty for acquittal in the case.

The PML-N supremo said that he had entrusted his matters and problems, including the cases, to Allah Almighty.

Nawaz added that he was extremely grateful to the Almighty as he stood vindicated today by His grace.

In July 2018, as the then-prime minister, Nawaz was handed 10 years in jail in the Avenfield properties corruption reference for owning assets beyond known income and one year for not cooperating with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), both of which were to be served concurrently.

Meanwhile, the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference pertains to the case in which the PML-N supremo was sentenced to seven years in jail on Dec 24, 2018. He was also fined Rs1.5 billion and US$25 million.

The IHC had declared him a proclaimed offender in both cases in December 2020. After leaving for London on medical grounds, Nawaz remained there for nearly four years and only returned to the country last month.

After returning from the UK, the PML-N leader had filed two separate applications seeking the restoration of his appeals against his conviction in both the references.

He had contended that while he was abroad for medical treatment, the pending appeals were dismissed for non-prosecution.