Former Pakistan PM Sharif sentenced to seven years jail for graft
ISLAMABAD - AFP
Former Pakistani leader Nawaz Sharif was sentenced to seven years in prison for corruption Monday, state media reported, the latest conviction in a series of allegations which saw him ousted from power last year.
Sharif, a three-time prime minister, has denied all the charges against him and claims he is being targeted by the country’s powerful security establishment.
Monday’s conviction, centred on family businesses in the Middle East, is his second stemming from a corruption investigation spurred by the Panama Papers leak, and comes as new Prime Minister Imran Khan has vowed to tackle endemic graft in Pakistan.
He was taken into custody and will be sent to a prison in Lahore, and was also fined 1.5 billion rupees ($10.8 million), according to state-run Pakistan Television.
Security was tight at the court, with some scuffles breaking out between Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supporters and security forces, who responded with tear gas.
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who succeeded Sharif as prime minister last year, said the PML-N would appeal the verdict but would "not resort to violence".
"The people of Pakistan and history will not accept this decision," he told reporters in Islamabad.
The Supreme Court disqualified Sharif from politics for life over the allegations last year, and directed an anti-corruption body to investigate three different charges regarding his family’s properties and businesses.
The months-long saga has seen him appear before accountability courts 165 times since September 2017, according to the English-language Dawn newspaper.
In July this year, he was convicted in one case revolving around family properties in London, and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
He was in London at the time as his wife received cancer treatment, but returned to Pakistan days ahead of the election, only to be arrested and imprisoned on arrival.
He was released in September after a court suspended his sentence pending an appeal hearing.
He was acquitted on the third charge, relating to business in Britain.
Sharif has been prime minister three times but power has been a rough ride.
He was first expelled from office in 1993 on suspicion of corruption. He won an election in 1997, only to be ousted and exiled after a military coup in 1999.
He returned to Pakistan in 2007 and took power once more in 2013 until his ousting last year.