ANI Photo | Islamabad accountability court acquits Nawaz Sharif’s sons in Panama Papers case

The Islamabad Accountability Court on Tuesday acquitted former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s sons, Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz, in three corruption references related to the Panama Papers, Dawn reported.
In 2018, Nawaz’s sons were declared proclaimed offenders after they failed to join the investigation into the Avenfield Apartment, Al-Azizia and Flagship Investment references filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Earlier this month, Hussain and Hassan, through their counsel, Qazi Misbahul Hassan, decided to surrender before the court to face the trial proceedings and sought suspension of the warrants issued against them.
After an accountability court suspended their warrants till March 14, both returned to Pakistan on March 12, ending their six-year-long self-imposed exile in London, Dawn reported.
Last week, the court reopened the references against Hussain and Hassan after suspending their perpetual arrest warrants and granting them bail against surety bonds of Rs50,000 each.
Qazi Misbah appeared as the counsel for Hussain and Hassan, while their pleader, Rana Mohammad Irfan, was also present. The NAB, represented by its prosecutor, Azhar Maqbool, did not oppose the acquittal pleas.
Hussain and Hassan Nawaz left the country in 2018 after they were named in corruption cases. They were declared proclaimed offenders for not joining the investigation and court proceedings, and subsequently, their arrest warrants were issued.
The PML-N had kept their return a “low-key” affair as the media was not informed about it. Both had landed at the Lahore airport from London and were escorted to their Jati Umra residence under the tight security of the Punjab police.
In the hearing, the court sought the NAB’s report on the pleas, to which the bureau’s prosecutor replied that a previous Supreme Court verdict was not an obstacle to the acquittals.
Accountability judge Nasir Javed Rana announced the verdict today that was reserved earlier in the day, accepting the acquittal pleas, Dawn reported.
Judge Rana then asked Maqbool to record his statement. The prosecutor informed the court that the cases did not fall under the amendments to the NAB laws, adding that Nawaz, Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz and her husband Captain (retd) Safdar had already been acquitted in the cases against them.
“Hassan and Hussain are accused of conspiracy and abetment, while the main accused have been acquitted,” the lawyer argued.
Noting that the accountability bureau had not filed an appeal against Maryam’s acquittal, the lawyer said it was based on the “same documents” on which her father was freed of the charges.
Recalling the Islamabad High Court’s verdicts, Misbah contended that the NAB could not present any evidence before the court against the newly elected Punjab CM, Dawn reported.
The counsel further said that the anti-corruption watchdog had not challenged the December 2023 verdicts where Nawaz’s acquittal pleas were accepted.
“The NAB did not present further evidence before the court based on which a case against Hassan and Hussain Nawaz could proceed. They cannot be sentenced based on the evidence currently present,” Misbah said.
The counsel termed the case proceedings a “waste of the court’s time.” He reiterated that, as charges against the main accused had been dismissed, a case on the charge of assisting could not be upheld.
Dawn reported that Misbah further noted that the NAB had withdrawn its appeal against Nawaz’s acquittal in the Flagship Investment reference.
After both sides presented their stances, the court reserved its verdict on Hassan and Hussain’s pleas seeking acquittal in the three references.

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