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Nawaz Sharif gets 7 years in corruption cases

Staff Writer | December 24, 2018
A Pakistani court on Monday sentenced former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to seven years in jail in two corruption cases.
Nawaz Sharif
Pakistan   Nawaz Sharif was also fined the equivalent of $25M for corruption
Sharif himself was present in the accountability court in the capital Islamabad to hear the much-awaited verdict after a 15-month legal process in the cases, popularly known as Al Azizia Steel Mills.

The court, however, acquitted him in the case of Flagship Investments.

The three-time premier was also fined the equivalent of $25 million.

In September 2017, directed by Pakistan’s Supreme Court, the country's corruption watchdog, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), accused Sharif of hiding assets in Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the name of his then-underage sons during his first two tenures as premier in the early 1990s.

Sharif, however, denied the charges, accusing the government and the establishment - a term coined to designate the country's powerful army - of unleashing "selective justice" against his party and family.

The court last week rejected Sharif's request for postponement of the verdict for a week, as he wanted to submit some more documentary proof to support his case.

Hundreds of police paramilitary troops - many of them carrying anti-riot shields - surrounded the court from early in the morning to hold off Sharif's supporters, who gathered in large numbers.

Footage on local Geo TV showed police erecting barbed wire to prevent the flag-waiving activists of Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) party from entering the court premises.

Only a few party leaders and journalists were allowed to enter the small courtroom - already packed to capacity by lawyers and the judicial staff.

This May Sharif, 68, had also been sentenced to 10 years in jail in a corruption case stemming from the whistleblower Panama papers scandal by an accountability court, but the Islamabad High Court suspended the conviction in September.

His daughter and political heir Maryam Nawaz and son-in-Law Captain Mohammad Safdar had also been sentenced to seven years and one year in prison respectively in the same case. The two are also on bail.

In July 2017, Nawaz Sharif was disqualified from office by the Supreme Court over the Panama Papers scandal, which also led to the filing of three corruption cases. Not long after, the top court also barred him from holding his party's leadership.

Sharif served as the premier from 1990 to 1992, 1997 to 1999, and 2013 to 2017, but could not complete even a single five-year term. His two previous governments were dismissed over corruption charges and through bloodless military coups in 1992 and 1999.

Shehbaz Sharif, his younger brother and three-time chief minister of Punjab, the country's most populous province, is already in NAB custody in connection with a housing scam. Hamza Shehbaz, Shehbaz Sharif's son and the opposition leader in Punjab Assembly, is also facing inquiries in connection with multiple corruption cases.

Despite the arrests and clear opposition from the establishment, Sharif's party placed second in the July general elections, securing 82 seats in the 342-member lower house.

The party bounced back in by-elections in October, clinching some key seats won by Prime Minister Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in the general elections. It included a seat won by Khan himself from Lahore in July.