Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s ousted prime minister was on Monday sentenced to seven years in jail for having investments beyond his declared assets in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption case, while he was acquitted in the Flagship Investments case by an accountability court.
In its decision, the court said there was concrete evidence against the 68-year-old former premier in the Al-Azizia reference, and that he was unable to provide a money trail in the case. While there was not enough evidence to convict Nawaz in the Flagship reference, thus he has been acquitted.
The verdicts were announced by accountability court Judge Muhammad Arshad Malik. Sharif was present in the court when the verdict was announced.
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. While Sharif was sentenced to 11 years jail earlier this year in connection with the Avenfield properties case, Judge Muhammad Arshad Malik had reserved the verdict on December 19 in the other two cases.
Sharif, who denies wrongdoing, was jailed in July in a different corruption case but bailed on appeal when the Islamabad High Court suspended his sentence in September.
His party lost general elections in July while he was in jail.
Former cricketer Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) won most seats, after running on an anti-corruption platform.
Security around the court in Islamabad was tight for Monday’s verdict.
The former ruling party – the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz – had threatened to start a mass protest movement and disrupt parliamentary business if its leader were sent back to prison.
He is expected to appeal against his latest conviction.
The court acquitted him in a second case.
Sharif’s daughter Maryam and son-in-law retired captain Mohammad Safdar was also convicted in the Avenfield properties case. 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 back.