Ex-Pakistan Premier Nawaz Sharif Sentenced to 10 Years Over Corruption

Ex-Pakistan Premier Nawaz Sharif Sentenced to 10 Years Over CorruptionEx-Pakistan Premier Nawaz Sharif Sentenced to 10 Years Over Corruption

A Pakistani anti-corruption court has found former prime minister Nawaz Sharif guilty of corruption and sentenced him to 10 years in prison and a $10.5 million fine, a move that could be a blow to his PML-N party’s chances in an upcoming general election.

Judge Muhammad Bashir read the verdict before a packed courtroom in the capital Islamabad on Friday, Al Jazeera reported.

The case relates to the ownership of four apartments in the upmarket Park Lane neighborhood of London.

Sharif was dismissed as prime minister last July over corruption allegations, with the Supreme Court ordering the anti-corruption watchdog to launch proceedings against him and his family.

In 2016, an International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) leak of 11.5 million legal documents—dubbed the ‘Panama Papers’—showed the Sharif family had secured a $13.8 million loan in 2007, using the apartments as collateral.

“Today, the anti-corruption court’s verdict … has made it clear that these assets, the Avenfield apartments, were acquired through corrupt means,” prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar Awan told reporters outside the courtroom.

Sharif’s daughter Maryam, also a political leader who has taken an increasingly frontline role in the party, was found to be involved in the ownership of a series of offshore companies, in whose name the properties were held.

On Friday, Maryam was also found guilty, and sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment and a $2.6 million fine.

Both father and daughter had earlier asked for a delay in the verdict, so that they may have attended the hearing in person, as they did regularly throughout proceedings.

Both are currently in London, where they are tending to Kulsoom Nawaz, Nawaz’s wife, who is critically ill and is being treated at a hospital there.

“I am not a dictator who will run away from the courts,” Nawaz told a press conference on Wednesday, saying he would face whatever punishment the court handed down.

Verdicts in two further cases against the Sharif family are still pending.

In April, the Supreme Court effectively ended Nawaz Sharif’s political career in parliament by banning him from running for public office for life.

“I am absolutely ready [to go to jail],” Maryam told reporters earlier this week. “This is not something to be afraid of.”

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