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June 26, 2019

Babar Awan acquitted in Nandipur reference

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June 26, 2019

ISLAMABAD: An accountability court has acquitted former law minister Dr Babar Awan while dismissing the acquittal pleas of former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf in

the long-running Nandipur Power Project corruption reference.

Accountability Court-II Judge Arshad Malik announced the judgment on Tuesday that was initially reserved on acquittal pleas filed by five accused in the reference. Aside from Awan, Justice (retd) Riaz Kiyani also acquitted.

The court dismissed the acquittal pleas of the three accused Shumaila Mehmood, Riaz Mehmood and Raja Pervaiz Ashraf. A total of seven accused had been nominated by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in reference, but Shahdi Rafi and Masood Chishti had not filed acquittal pleas to the trial court.

The court had reserved its judgment on four cases on Monday, while the verdict on Babar Awan’s plea was reserved on April 26, after hearing arguments at large. The NAB had stated in its reference that the national exchequer had faced a loss of Rs27 billion due to delay in execution of the Nandipur Project. The accused had committed dishonesty in their responsibilities, it stated.

Later on, President Arif Alvi called Awan to congratulate him on his acquittal. Awan, earlier, had given resignation as an adviser to the prime minister on parliamentary affairs after NAB filed a case on the said reference.

The Nandipur Power Project was approved by the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) in December 2007 at a cost of 329 million dollars. After approval, the contract was signed in January 2008, between Northern Power Generation Company Limited (NPGCL) and Dong Fang Electric Corporation (DEC), China and two consortiums — COFACE for 68.967 million euros and SINOSURE for 150.151 million dollars.

In 2008, the Ministry of Water and Power approached the Ministry of Law to issue a legal opinion but the accused “in connivance with each other and with malafide intentions”, the latter repeatedly refused to issue on flimsy grounds, a legal opinion issued in 2011 said. Furthermore, the Ministry of Water and Power also failed to take any concrete measures to resolve the issue and the matter remained pending.

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