Nawaz Sharif sentenced to seven years in jail

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ISLAMABAD: Former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif has been found guilty of corruption and sentenced to seven years in prison in Al-Azizia steel mills case.

An accountability court also handed the former prime minister a fine of Rs1.5 billion and 2.5 million dollars.

On the other court, the anti-graft court acquitted the former prime minister in a Flagship reference over lack of evidence.

Judge Arshad Malik ruled that Nawaz Sharif had failed to submit money trail in Al-Azizai steel mills case.

Nawaz Sharif himself was present in the courtroom as the judge handed down the sentence. The former three-time prime minister has been arrested. He will be moved to Adiala jail in an armored vehicle.

According to sources, Nawaz Sharif will be shifted to jail from the backdoor of the court.

In the verbal order, there has been no mention of Nawaz Sharif’s sons Hussain Nawaz and Hasan Nawaz. A detailed verdict is also likely to released today.

After hearing the verdict, Nawaz Sharif has requested the court to shift him to Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore instead of Adiala jail.

The judge has reserved the verdict, which will be announced shortly.

In a meeting yesterday, Nawaz Sharif said that he would take a legal route in case of adverse action.

Ex-PM Abbasi criticizes verdict

Former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that neither history nor people of Pakistan accept such verdicts. “We have accepted the verdict, but history and people of Pakistan will never accept this,” Abbas said.

“This is the first decision in the history of Pakistan which has been announced in a locked courtroom,” PM Abbas said.

“We will file an appeal which is our right. We will hold protests inside the parliament and outside but it will be completely peaceful.”

“There was no evidence at all in Al-Azizia case. No evidence was presented. He was to be jailed so he was.”

What is Al-Azizia Steel Mills case?

Hussain Nawaz Sharif, the former prime minister’s elder son, claims that he received a sum of $5.4 million from his grandfather to establish the steel conglomerate in Saudi Arabia. The payment was made by a Qatari royal on the request of the elder Sharif. Thereafter, scrap machinery was transported from their Ahli Steel Mills in Dubai to Jeddah to establish Al-Azizia in 2001.

The JIT constituted to investigate the graft allegations insisted that the real owner of the mills was Nawaz Sharif, and it was being operated by his son on his behalf. Hussain was 29-years-old at the time. The JIT also held that Nawaz Sharif received 97 per cent profit as ‘gifts’ from Hill Metals Establishment, another company established by Hussain Nawaz Sharif in 2005, in Saudi Arabia.

Of the amount, Nawaz Sharif transferred 77 percent to his daughter, Maryam Nawaz Sharif. (Maryam is not accused in this reference). Here as well, the NAB claims that since Sharif received a large profit from Hussain’s companies, he is the real owner and not his son. However, during the proceedings the NAB could not substantiate its claim through documentary evidences and instead placed the burden of proof on the accused.

My conscience is clear

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif says that he has never misused his authority hence he has no fear for the accountability court verdict scheduled to be delivered today.

“My conscience is clear. I haven’t done anything which can put me to shame,” he said while speaking to the party leaders before leaving for the court. “I am hopeful I will get justice. I have served the country with utmost honesty.”

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader said that there is nothing in the case against him and lamented that Pakistan has once again been off tracked from the road to progress.

“The incumbent government has sabotaged the nation’s progress,” he added.

Sources informed Geo News that the party representative kept asking Nawaz, party’s strategy for protest in case he is sentenced today. Nawaz left the decision on the party’s senior leadership.

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