Former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif has been sentenced to 7-years of imprisonment in the Al-Azizia Mills graft case by an accountability court in Pakistan. He was held liable for inability to explain assets beyond means in the Al-Azizia reference case, but has been acquitted in the Flagship Investment reference case. The anti-corruption court also slammed a $25 million fine on the ex-chief of Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz).
The accountability court judge Muhammad Arshad Malik had reserved the judgment after completing the hearing in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and the Flagship Investment cases against the deposed prime minister earlier in December. The judge on Wednesday rejected the application by Sharif's lawyer Khawaja Harris to provide one week time to submit more documents but allowed him to submit additional documents. The Supreme Court had set the deadline for Monday to wrap up the remaining two corruption cases against the three-time former prime minister.
Meanwhile, Sharif held a long meeting with the PML-N president and his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif on Sunday at his residence to discuss party matters and the post-verdict scenario. Both the leaders also agreed to seek support from the ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP) to steer out of the political situation if the leader is convicted. They also formulated the strategy to launch a mass contact campaign in view of the verdict landing Sharif behind the bars, reported The News International. Sharif is expected to take further legal recourse now.
However, Sharif, who arrived in Islamabad from Lahore on Sunday, said that his conscience was clear. "I do not have any sort of fear; my conscience is clear. I have done nothing that would force me to bow my head. (I) have always served the country and this nation with absolute honesty," he said while talking to senior party leaders in a special meeting in Islamabad before going to the court.
Sharif, in July 2017, was disqualified by the Supreme Court over the Panama Papers scandal, which also led to the filing of three corruption cases against him. He and his sons, Hussain and Hasan, are accused in all three references whereas his daughters Maryam Nawaz and Safdar were accused in the Avenfield reference case. Later on 6 July, an accountability court sentenced the Sharif, Maryam and Sharif's son-in-law retired captain Safdar in the Avenfield reference case. His sons were also co-accused in all three cases but they were declared absconders for failing to appear before the court even for a single time. The court decided to hear their cases separately once they returned back.
Currently, the family is on a bail granted by the Islamabad High Court which pointed out serious faults with judge Muhammad Bashir’s decision of sentencing them for having assets beyond means in the London apartments case.
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Updated Date: Dec 24, 2018 16:12:08 IST