Avenfield reference: IHC says NAB failed to prove case

Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday issued a written order regarding the acquittal of PML-N’s Vice President Maryam Nawaz and her husband, Captain (r) Muhammad Safdar, in the Avenfield property reference.

A two-member judge bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhter Kayani issued the 41-page order which stated that National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had failed to prove its case against Maryam Nawaz and Captain Safdar and their punishment by the trial court was “unjustified”. The decision said that National Accountability Bureau could not prove the element of aiding and abetting the principal offender on part of Maryam Nawaz.

The prosecution had also failed to prove that Maryam Nawaz was the beneficial owner of Avenfield Apartments or that it had anything to do with Neilson Enterprises Limited and Nescoll Limited (offshore companies), the verdict said. The order said that Capt. (r) Muhammad Safdar had solely been convicted for presenting a “forged and bogus document,” however, there was no evidence that any party had denied the execution.

“There is nothing on record to establish that documents were bogus apart from the allegation that Calibri font was not available in 2006, on the date, they were executed, however, even that evidence was not credible,” the order stated. It said that NAB could not transfer the blame to the accused in the Avenfield case. Known sources of income meant ascertaining the sources of income by investigation, it added.

From the statement of JIT head Wajid Zia, DG NAB and the investigation officer, it was found that NAB did not try to investigate the matter and only relied upon the JIT report to reach the final decision, the judgment said. The verdict said that the decision of the accountability court of July 6, 2018 stands annulled and the appeals were accepted, it concluded. It may be mentioned here that on September 29, 2022, the IHC had announced the short order regarding the acquittal of Maryam Nawaz and her husband.

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