Pakistan ex-PM Sharif sentenced to 10 years for corruption
07 July, 2018, 01:57 | Author: Jason Torres
The deposed former prime minister Sharif was sentenced in absentia to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment by an anti-graft court in Islamabad in one of the three corruption cases against him in the Panama Papers scandal, dealing a huge blow to his party ahead of the elections on July 25.
The National Accountability Bureau had filed three case related to the purchase of four flats in London's Avenfield House against Sharif and his children.
Pakistan is going to the polls on July 25.
Throughout the case, they and their political supporters have cast the allegations as part of a campaign to discredit the former premier - allegedly led by Pakistan's army, which has made little secret of its dislike for Sharif.
While Sharif was fined 8 million pounds (USD 10 million), his daughter Maryam was handed down a 2 million pound (USD 2.6 million) fine.
The verdict, a potentially significant boost for the main opposition party led by former World Cup cricketer Imran Khan, immediately raised questions over whether Sharif will return to Pakistan from London, where his wife is receiving cancer treatment.
Commentators said the party, which has no other charismatic leader, will have difficulty winning enough seats to form a government and is likely to wind up in a weak coalition that will face challenges from both the powerful security establishment and rising religiously-based parties. In July, last year, Sharif was ousted by the Pakistan supreme court in the Panamagate scandal.
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Khan was a driving force behind Sharif's downfall, seizing on the 2016 Panama Papers' revelations that the then-prime minister's family had bought the London apartments using offshore companies. The longtime politician's first two terms in power ended abruptly under military pressure, the second time by outright coup. Nawaz had already been disqualified a year ago to contest these elections, and his brother Shehbaz Sharif is now leading the party to the polls.
He said the decision was also an effort to influence the upcoming elections.
Sharif has a history of conflict with the military even though his political career was initially nurtured by military dictator Zia ul-Haq in the 1980s.
By convicting Sharif, the court has in fact selectively done the application of justice.
The court also orders the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to open a criminal trial into ownership of the London flats along with several other Panama Papers revelations.
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