Ousted Pak PM Nawaz Sharif shifted to Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore

Geraldine Edwards
December 27, 2018

An anti-corruption court in Pakistan on Monday convicted Nawaz Sharif in Al-Azizia corruption case and awarded him seven years jail term, while former prime minister was acquitted in Flagship Investment reference, said reports.

The anti-corruption court said in its ruling that the three-time prime minister was unable to prove the source of income that led to his ownership of a steel mill overseas.

The latest verdict came a little more than three months after the Islamabad High Court suspended the accountability court's judgment against Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain Mohammad Safdar (Retd). However, the trio was released in September by the Islamabad High Court owing to lack of evidence. The three-time former prime minister and his family have denied any wrongdoing.

Sharif's daughter, Maryam Nawaz, has suggested he is being punished for resisting "unseen forces", an apparent reference to the military, which has directly ruled Pakistan for half its modern history and retains a powerful role behind the scenes.

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Jailed former premier Nawaz Sharif's party leaders on Tuesday questioned the merits of a verdict by an anti-corruption court against him, calling the judgement as targeted accountability by a "selected" government.

The two brothers, based overseas, have been absconding since the proceedings began a year ago and were declared proclaimed offenders by the court.

Judge Arshad Malik imposed hefty fines on the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) leader after ruling that Al-Azizia Steel Mills - a Saudi Arabian firm carrying the name of his son - belonged to the former Prime Minister and that he was unable to demonstrate how the project was funded, Dawn newspaper reported.

According to Pakistan's anti-graft body, it will challenge the acquittal of Sharif, who was sent to jail a day before his birthday.

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The court's verdict is yet another test for the Sharif family, especially Nawaz Sharif, who has been busy and severely occupied in handling the court proceedings since the time he was ousted from the premiership.

He was first expelled from office in 1993 on suspicion of corruption.

The former Pakistan Prime Minister had arrived in Islamabad on Sunday from Lahore ahead of the verdict. The apex court initially set six month deadline to conclude the cases but it was subsequently increased around eight times on the request of the accountability court.

He also said that there was no evidence against him. He said that Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid and Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry in private two days prior to the Al-Azizia Steel Mills verdict were talking about the decision. "Nawaz Sharif's only fault is speaking up against the corrupting of the masses' mandate". Hamza Shehbaz, Shehbaz Sharif's son and the opposition leader in Punjab Assembly, is also facing inquiries in connection with multiple corruption cases.

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