Former Pakistan PM Sharif sentenced to 7 years in prison

ISLAMABAD: An accountability court on Monday handed ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif seven years in jail in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference, but acquitted him in a second reference related to Flagship Investments.

The court also fined Nawaz Rs1.5 billion and US $25 million in the Al-Azizia reference.

A disqualification of 10 years from holding any public office is part of the sentences awarded to the former premier. The disqualification will go into effect following his release from jail after serving the seven-year sentence.

However, the court acquitted him in another case related to investments in the United Kingdom and imposed a fine of 1.6 million pounds. His sons, Hassan and Hussain Nawaz were declared absconders for failing to face the charges against them.
In the much-awaited verdict, the accountability court said Sharif could not prove the source of income for the ownership of Al-Azizia steel mill but acquitted him in the case related to Flagship Investment in the UK.

He was arrested from the courtroom as the accountability court judge Arshad Malik announced the short order. The judge initially reserved his decision on Sharif’s request to send him to Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail but later accepted it.
Three corruption cases were filed against the former PM on the orders of the Supreme Court following its Panama Papers case verdict that had disqualified Sharif from office last year on July 28.

This year, in July, the accountability court had sentenced Sharif to 10 years in prison in the Avenfield reference, a case related to the purchase of upscale apartments in London. In September, the Islamabad High Court had suspended his sentence and ordered his release on bail.

On December 7, the Supreme Court had directed the accountability court to conclude the two remaining cases against Sharif by December 24, after previously granting it seven extensions to wrap up the references initiated by the National Accountability Bureau, Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog.

Soon after the announcement of the verdict on Monday, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supporters clashed with security personnel. Tear gas and baton-charge were used to disperse the protesters.

Nawaz will travel from Rawalpindi to Lahore in his personal bulletproof vehicle and will be accompanied by a judicial magistrate. He has asked Hamza Shahbaz to reach Adiala jail with the car at 10am.