News Desk |
An accountability court in Islamabad indicted on Monday, 11th March, seven accused, including former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and former law minister Babar Awan in Nandipur Power Project reference.
Accountability Judge Muhammad Arshad Malik, famous for his judgment on the cases against the Sharif family leading them to prison, read out charges against the accused who pleaded not guilty and opted to contest the charges. The judge directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to present witnesses to record their testimonies.
Defending charges against him, he said neither was he the law minister when two summaries with regard to the project were sent to the Ministry of Law nor it was his responsibility to grant approval.
Awan requested the court to hear the case on a daily basis. He said he had been subjected to media trial for seven years and when the time has come to conduct his real trial NAB was shying away. He demanded that at least four witnesses be summoned on the next hearing. However, the NAB prosecutor opposed his plea, saying the witness who furnished documents should be called first to record testimony.
Earlier on March 8, Babar Awan withdrew his plea seeking acquittal in the graft case. The NAB prosecutor opposed Awan’s request to withdraw his application. However, the court granted the plea.
NAB has named former PM Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Babar Awan, former law secretary Riaz Kiyani, Masood Chishti, ex-consultant Shumaila Mahmood, former joint secretary Riaz Mahmood and ex-secretary Shahid Rafique as accused persons in the case.
According to NAB officials, delays in the completion of Nandipur Power Project caused the national exchequer a loss of Rs27 billion. Earlier, the accountability judge had remarked that it has been established that the power project suffered delays as now the court has to see that the delay was caused because of Babar Awan and others or not.
Upon this, Awan said there was a need to make some changes in law to make “delay” a crime. Defending charges against him, he said neither was he the law minister when two summaries with regard to the project were sent to the Ministry of Law nor it was his responsibility to grant approval.