Maryam Nawaz Sharif

Maryam Nawaz not found guilty: Avenfield property reference terminated

A Division Bench of Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday acquitted Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N)’s Vice President Maryam Nawaz and her husband Capt. (retd) Muhammad Safdar in Avenfield Property Reference, dismissing the decision of accountability court.

Terminating the reference, the court stated that the NAB had failed to establish its charges against Maryam Nawaz and her husband.

A two-member IHC bench, comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhter Kayani announced the verdict after listening arguments from two sides at length. Maryam Nawaz appeared before the court along with her legal team.

Earlier during the hearing, the court asked the deputy prosecutor NAB Sardar Muzafar Abbasi to read out only the relevant portion of the case record. Justice Aamer Farooq said that the Advocate on Record (AOR) had filed application to the apex court and asked whether AOR was summoned as witness in the trial court.

Justice Mohsin Akhter Kayani asked the deputy prosecutor NAB Sardar Muzafar Abbasi to also read out the miscellaneous application, filed in the Supreme Court. The prosecutor said the application was filed by Hassan and Hussain Nawaz.

Justice Farooq observed that the court had to view whether the documents presented by NAB were based on evidence or it were mere an opinion of somebody. The court asked the NAB to inform about the cost of each flat against which it was purchased. Was there any document submitted which showed that when and against what price the flats were purchased, it questioned.

Maryam’s counsel Amjad Pervaiz pleaded that neither document with such information existed nor it was mentioned in the statement of Section 342 as well.

The court observed that the NAB prosecutor Usman Cheema had adopted the stance that Maryam’s role was not initiated in 1996, instead her role came in 2006 regarding London flats.

The NAB prosecutor on the occasion presented the documents of Nelson and Nescom companies. Justice Farooq remarked that it was an admitted fact that this property was owned by Nelson and Nescom companies, adding that the land registries of four apartments would be the same.

Justice Kayani asked the prosecutor to prove the link of these companies with former prime minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif through the evidence. Justice Farooq asked whether now the prosecution was of the view that Maryam Nawaz was the beneficial owner of this property.

The court further questioned whether it should perceive that Nawaz Sharif had no link with this case.

Justice Farooq remarked that there was no name of Nawaz Sharif anywhere into this matter. It was not understandable that how NAB was linking this property with him (Nawaz Sharif), he added.

The court observed that reference pertaining holding assets beyond known sources of income couldn’t be prepared against Maryam Nawaz as she had not been a public office holder.

The court instructed the NAB prosecutor to prove his arguments with the evidence. Maryam’s lawyer said that the NAB only depended on report of Rehman Malik.

The NAB prosecutor said that being public office holder Nawaz Sharif had purchased these apartments in the name of his daughter.

The court said that the NAB had no case instead of miscellaneous applications which were filed in this matter.

The court remarked that if JIT head Wajid Zia came to know that the value of this property was five million dollars, then he could get the details easily.

NAB prosecutor Sardar Muzafar Abbasi said that the estimation of property’s value was not relevant to this case. The court said it was a wrong perception of NAB.

After the NAB prosecutor concluded arguments, the court acquitted Maryam Nawaz and her husband while terminating the Avenfield Property reference.

The accountability court had announced a total of eight year imprisonment sentence to Maryam Nawaz along with fine worth Rs 335 million while Capt. (retd) Muhammad Safdar was given one year jail term in 2018. The court had also disqualified Maryam Nawaz for a period of ten year to hold a public office.

Similarly, the former prime minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif was awarded a total of 11 year imprisonment sentence along with fine worth Rs1.3 billions.

Maryam Nawaz and her husband had challenged their conviction before the IHC. In previous hearings, the IHC bench had raised several questions against the merits of the reference.

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