ISLAMABAD (Dec 24, 2018) — An accountability court on Monday sentenced former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to seven years in jail in Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metals corruption references and ordered that his properties be confiscated.
The Accountability Judge while reading out the short order, said that Sharif was indicted in the Al-Azizia reference under Section 9(a)(v) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.
Section 9(a)(v) says: “A holder of a public office, or any other person, is said to commit or to have committed the offence of corruption and corrupt practices if he or any of his dependents or benamidar owns, possesses, or has acquired right or title in any assets or holds irrevocable power of attorney in respect of any assets or pecuniary resources disproportionate to his known sources of income, which he cannot reasonably account for, or maintains a standard of living beyond that which is commensurate with his sources of income.”
The reference pertains to the Sharifs being unable to justify the source of the funds provided to set up Al-Azizia and Hill Metal Establishment in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, making this a case of owning assets beyond means–the burden of proof rested on the ex-PM to satisfy the court.
The short order against the former ousted premier said that the burden of proof lies on Nawaz in the Azizia and Hill case. Sharif, however, denied any wrongdoing. He can appeal the verdict, under which he was also fined $25 million for not disclosing how his family set up the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metals when he was in exile in Saudi Arabia.
A disqualification of 10 years from holding any public office is part of the sentences awarded to Sharif.
“People will not accept this verdict,” said former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.
The court acquitted the ousted PM and PML-N supremo in the Flagship reference but imposed a fine of Rs1.5 billion. His sons, Hassan and Hussain, were declared absconders.The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) announced that it would appeal against the verdict.
The deposed prime minister was arrested from the courtroom after he was found guilty in the Al-Azizia and Hill Metals corruption reference, drawing criticism from his party, which said the decision was a “black stain” on the justice system.
His lawyer Khawaja Haris requested the judge that the PML-N leader be shifted to Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat Central Jail instead of Adiala jail. The court, after reserving its verdict on the request, agreed but said he would be sent to Adiala today and to Kot Lakhpat tomorrow (Tuesday).