A Pakistani court on Monday sentenced former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to seven years in prison and ordered him to pay $25 million in fines for corruption.
The judge determined that Sharif’s investments went beyond his declared assets.
Pakistani Judge Arshad Malik reportedly wrote:
The prosecution has successfully established all the ingredients of the offense of corruption and corrupt practices against […] Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif […] as per the charge framed for holding and being the true and real beneficial owner of the assets … beyond his known sources of income as he failed to establish [the] contrary thereto.
Authorities reportedly took the former premier back to jail.
“Sharif, who denies wrongdoing, was jailed in July in a different corruption case but bailed on appeal when the Islamabad High Court suspended his 10-year sentence in September,” BBC notes.
The disgraced former PM has claimed the charges against him are politically motivated and he is expected to appeal the fresh corruption conviction.
“A disqualification of 10 years from holding any public office is part of the sentences awarded to the former premier. The disqualification will go into effect following his release from jail after serving the seven-year sentence,” Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper reports. “Following the judgment, Nawaz was taken into custody from the courtroom. … Armored vehicles standing by outside the premises transported the former three-time prime minister to Adiala prison.”
The court also issued “non-bailable arrest warrants” for “Nawaz’s sons, Hussain and Hassan, who had already been declared proclaimed offenders for absconding from the trial,” Dawn notes
The judge convicted Nawaz in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills case but acquitted him in the Flagship Investments one.
“Judge Arshad Malik while reading out the short order said there was no case against Nawaz in the Flagship reference. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) announced that it would appeal against the verdict. The judge reportedly determined that the Pakistani PM failed to justify the source of the funds provided to set up the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment (HME) in Saudi Arabia,” Dawn explains.
In the 131-page judgement of the case, Judge Malik ordered that all assets, properties, rights, receivables and interests of and in Hill Metal Establishment “stand forfeited to the federal government, which shall forthwith approach the Government of KSA [Saudi Arabia], so as to implement and give effect to the said forfeiture.”
“The known and declared sources of income of the Accused No. 1 (Nawaz Sharif) and practically of also his two sons […] are patently and grossly disproportionate to the reasonable (bare minimum) cost of setting up [Al-Azizia Steel Company Limited and Hill Metal Establishment],” the judgment states.
Sharif’s former ruling party — the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) — “had threatened to start a mass protest movement and disrupt parliamentary business if its leader were sent back to prison,” BBC points out.
“PML-N supporters gathered outside the premises began pelting stones and tried to force their way into the court complex, DawnNewsTV reported. Police retaliated with tear gas shelling and baton-charging the supporters,” Dawn adds.
Citing the special prosecutor in the case, Dawn explains that the case against Sharif revolved around whether or not corruption was at play when his family established the Al-Azizia and Hill Metal Establishment in Saudi Arabia and Flagship Investment in the United Kingdom.
“According to the prosecution, the Sharif family failed to justify the source of the funds provided to set up the firms, making this a case of owning assets beyond means,” Dawn notes.