IHC acquits Maryam, Safdar Avenfield case
Maryam congratulates her father Nawaz Sharif over telephone
ISLAMABAD ( Web News )
Islamabad High Court (IHC) Thursday acquitted Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz and her husband Captain (retd) Safdar in the Avenfield reference case.
A two-judge bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani heard the appeals against the conviction of Maryam and her husband Captain (retd) Mohammad Safdar in the Avenfield case.
The court had accepted the appeals of Maryam Nawaz and Captain Safdar after four years as Maryam Nawaz and her husband Capt (retd) Safdar’s counsel had raised questions over the conviction of their clients in Avenfield Apartments corruption reference, saying the case lacked evidence from the very beginning.
The two were convicted in July 2018, whereby Maryam had been sentenced to seven years in prison and her husband was sentenced to one year in prison; however, they were both on bail since September 2018.
It may be noted that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in September had admitted before the Islamabad High Court that Maryam Nawaz had no direct role in purchasing the Avenfield properties in London.
During the proceedings on Thursday, NAB Prosecutor Usman Rashid Cheema, who had argued the case in a previous hearing did not appear in the court citing ill-health. Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi represented the accountability watchdog in his place at the IHC instead.
“I will not go into the background of the case, I will start from where the arguments ended,” said Abbasi as the court proceedings were initiated.
The court had asked several questions of the NAB prosecution, against which Abbasi presented his arguments but nonetheless failed to satisfy the court.
“Maryam Nawaz and Nawaz Sharif’s connection to the assets beyond means has not been proven,” remarked the court.
“How does Wajid Zia’s statement and the material presented to prove the prosecution’s case” the IHC inquired. It may be noted here that Zia was the investigating officer (IO) who headed the joint investigation team (JIT) that probed the Panamagate, leading to the disqualification of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif
“Wajid Zia had seen all these records himself,” responded Abbasi however the court appeared dissatisfied with the answer.
“What is Maryam Nawaz’s link with Nawaz Sharif in the assets case?” inquired Justice Amir Farooq. “You have not provided a single link yet,” the judge observed. “I will show it from the documents as well,” the NAB prosecutor responded.
“Then why waste time,” the judge remarked, “come to the point”. As the proceedings commenced, however, the prosecution failed to answer the court’s concerns.
“The IO’s observations cannot be presented as proof,” Justice Kiyani remarked.
“The JIT provided no proof,” he further observed. Later the court announced its verdict acquitting Maryam Nawaz and Safdar and declared the seven years imprisonment sentence illegal.
As soon as the verdict was announced, Maryam through a telephonic conversation congratulated her father and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif.
PML-N’s party workers also celebrated on the occasion outside the court. It may be noted here that the Islamabad accountability court had sentenced former premier Nawaz Sharif to 11 years imprisonment in July 2018 after several hearings in the Avenfield reference and imposed a fine of 8 million pounds as well.