An accountability court in Islamabad on Tuesday acquitted Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Babar Awan and retired Justice Riaz Kiani in the Nandipur power plant corruption reference.
The court turned down acquittal appeals filed by former premier Raja Pervez Ashraf, Dr Riaz Mehmood and others.
Awan and the others were indicted in the case — that was filed by the National Accountability Bureau last year — by the accountability court in March. The charges against them included "causing delay in according approval to the project", which caused losses worth billions of rupees to the national exchequer.
All of the accused had pleaded "not guilty". In April, Awan had filed an appeal for acquittal from the case, one month after withdrawing a similar appeal from the same court.
The Nandipur power project was approved by the Economic Coordination Committee on Dec 27, 2007, at a cost of $329 million.
After the approval, the contract was signed on Jan 28, 2008, between the Northern Power Generation Company Limited and the Dong Fang Electric Corporation, China. Two consortiums — Coface for 68.967m euros and Sinosure for $150.151m — were set up for financing the project.
The water and power ministry sought legal opinion on the project from the law ministry in accordance with the schedule of the agreement in July 2009, but the accused repeatedly refused to do so. Awan was law minister at the time.
The water and power ministry also failed to take any concrete steps to resolve the issue and the matter remained pending.
According to NAB, the legal opinion was issued in November 2011 after Awan was replaced as the law minister.