In a big setback to Pakistan’s ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, country’s accountability court on Friday sentenced him to 10 years in prison in one of the three corruption cases against him in the high-profile Panama Papers scandal. The 68-year-old is in London attending to his wife Kulsoom Nawaz who was diagnosed with throat cancer last year.
The court delivered the verdict after postponing it for four times in the Avenfield corruption case — pertaining to the ownership of four flats in the posh Avenfield House in London.
Announcing the verdict behind closed doors, judge Mohammad Bashir pronounced him guilty and handed him 10 years in prison. His daughter Maryam, a co-accused in the case, was sentenced to seven years, while his son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar was given a one year sentence.
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 judgement runs in over 100 pages.
The ruling came weeks before the general elections in Pakistan on July 25. Authorities had deployed a large number of security personnel in and around the Federal Judicial Complex, where the court is located. The roads leading to the complex have also been closed to the general traffic.
Three-time prime minister Sharif resigned as Pakistan prime minister last year after the Supreme Court disqualified him from holding public office and ruled that graft cases be filed against the beleaguered leader and his children over the Panama Papers scandal.
Sharif and his daughter Maryam have made several trips back and forth from London to attend the hearings and attend to the ailing Kulsoom.
The Avenfield case was among the three corruption cases filed against the former premier and his children by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on the Supreme Court’s orders in the Panama Papers case which disqualified Sharif.
Apart from Sharif, Maryam and son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar are accused in the case. Sharif’s two sons – Hasan and Hussain – also wanted in the case, have been declared proclaimed offenders owing to their no-show.
(With inputs from Agencies)