ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was on Monday sentenced to jail for seven years by the anti-corruption court in connection with the Al-Azizia case. In the other corruption case related to Flagship Investment, the court acquitted the former PM.
Judge Muhammad Arshad Malik of Islamabad-based accountability court had last week reserved the judgment against the 68-year-old after completion of hearing in the two cases. The Supreme Court had set Monday as the deadline to wrap up the remaining two corruption cases against the three-time former prime minister.
Defending himself, Sharif said 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 upon arival in Islamabad from Lahore on Sunday. He also claimed there was no evidence against him.
Ahead of the verdict, Sharif met his younger brother and Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif at Ministers’ Enclave. The younger Sharif was also facing probe by the NAB.
The accountability court had indicted elder Sharif for holding assets beyond his known sources of income in August 2017. Last week, the judge rejected the application by Sharif’s lawyer Khawaja Harris to provide one week time to submit more documents but allowed him to provide any document by Friday last.
Three cases – Avenfield properties case, Flagship Investment case and Al-Azizia steel mills case – were launched by the National Accountability Bureau on September 8, 2017 following a judgment by the apex court that disqualified Sharif. 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. Sharif was disqualified by the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case in July, 2017.
In July, 2018 Sharif, his daughter Maryam and his son-in-law retired captain Mohammad Safdar were sentenced to 11 years, eight years and one year respectively in prison in the Avenfield properties case related to their purchase of four luxury flats in London through corrupt practices. However, the three were bailed out by the Islamabad High Court in September.
His two sons – Hassan and Hussain – 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.