Ex-PM Nawaz Sharif jailed for 7 years in Al-Azizia reference; acquitted in Flagship corruption reference

01:58 PM | 24 Dec, 2018
Ex-PM Nawaz Sharif jailed for 7 years in Al-Azizia reference; acquitted in Flagship corruption reference
ISLAMABAD – An accountability court in the federal capital sentenced former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to seven years in prison Monday in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption case.

Accountability Judge Mohammad Arshad Malik delivered the judgement in both the Al Azizia and Flagship Investment references. Only Sharif and his lawyers was allowed to enter the courtroom.

The 68-year-old was, however, acquitted by the anti-graft court in Flagship reference. The judge said that there was no case against Nawaz Sharif.

The court had reserved judgment in both the references on December 19, 2018.

What we know so far?

  • The three-time premier has been ordered to pay a fine of $25 million

  • The supreme leader of PML-N is expected to be transported to Adiala Jail shortly

  • N-League workers clash with police outside the judicial complex

  • An area of 500 meter around the court completely sealed by Rangers and police personnel

  • Nawaz Sharif has been shifted to Adiala jail and will be taken to Lahore's Kot Lakhpat prison tomorrow

The supreme leader of former ruling party Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was arrested from the court.

With deployment of a heavy contingent of security forces, including rangers and 1,000 police officers, security around the Judicial Complex in Islamabad has been tightened ahead of the verdict.

The Section 144 has been imposed in the capital, but the Islamabad and Rawalpindi administrations have decided that there will be no blockade at the entry points of the capital, and security officials will only ensure strict checking.

Before the verdict was announced after much delay, Nawaz Sharif reached the accountability court accompanied by Hamza Shahbaz, police and private security personnel.

Sharif, who is out on bail, arrived in Islamabad from Lahore on Sunday. The three-time premier who appeared before the court for at least 78 times has denied any wrongdoing. “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 outside the court.

On Sunday, the elder Sharif met his younger brother and Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif at Ministers' Enclave. Shahbaz has been in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in connection with investigations in Ashiana housing scandal since October 5.

Both the leaders have formulated the strategy for a power show and also directed the PML-N lawmakers and workers to reach Islamabad to join the power show. They also agreed to seek support from the Pakistan People’s party (PPP) to steer out of the political quagmire.

Ahead of Monday's verdict, Ahsan Iqbal, a senior leader from Sharif's opposition Pakistan Muslim League party, said "it will be unfortunate" if Sharif is sentenced.

Al-Azizia and Hill Metal Establishment (KSA), Flagship Investment (UK)

The two references against Hussain and Hasan Nawaz, that the accountability court is to take up today, concern the setting up of the Al-Azizia and Hill Metal Establishment in Saudi Arabia, and Flagship Investment in the United Kingdom.

The accountability court has charged Nawaz in both references under Section 9(a)(v) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.

The court, which has indicted Sharif for allegedly making assets beyond his known means of income, had reserved the judgment earlier this week rejecting the ex-prime minister's request for postponement of the verdict as he wanted to submit some more documentary proofs to support his case.

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In September 2017, the country's corruption watchdog National Accountability Bureau (NAB) filed three references against Nawaz Sharif – regarding Avenfield Properties, Al-Azizia, and Flagship Investment – on the Supreme Court's directives in the landmark Panamagate verdict last year which removed the PML-N supremo from the prime minister office.

On July 6, the same accountability judge handed down convictions to Nawaz, his daughter Maryam, and son-in-law Capt (r) Mohammad Safdar in the Avenfield Properties reference and jailed them for 10 years, seven years and one year respectively. But on Sept 19, the Islamabad High Court suspended the conviction in September. NAB’s appeal against the suspension of the sentence remains pending before the top court.

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Sharif, who served as the premier from 1990 to 1992, 1997 to 1999, and 2013 to 2017, could not complete even a single five-year term.

His two previous governments were dismissed over corruption charges and through a bloodless military coup in 1992 and 1999, respectively.

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