ISLAMABAD: While awarding seven-year sentence to former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference on Monday Accountability Court acquitted him in Flagship corruption reference filed in wake of Panama papers case.
Announcing verdict in two corruption references against Nawaz Sharif, Accountability Court II Islamabad Judge Muhammad Arshad Malik said no case has been established against Nawaz Sharif in the Flagship reference, adding at the same time Nawaz Sharif failed to provide money trail in Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference of the National Accountability Bureau.
Imposing fine of Rs3.47 billion (USD 25 million) on the former prime minister for failing to provide money trail the Accountability Court also issued directives to the concerned authorities to seize Al-Azizia and Hill Metal property.
On the other hand, Sharif’s sons Hassan and Hussain have been declared absconders whose permanent arrest warrants have been issued earlier during adjudication of the current matter.
Shortly after announcement of the verdict, the NAB officials apprehended Nawaz Sharif from the courtroom whereas security was reportedly tightened at Adiyala Jail in Rawalpindi. Later, accepting plea of Nawaz Sharif counsel, the court granted permission to shift Sharif to Kot Lakhpat jail Lahore.
It is worth mentioning that earlier the top anti-graft body had filed three references in Avenfield, Al-Aziza Steel Mills, Hill Metal Establishment and offshore companies including Flagship Investment Limited against Sharif family in pursuance of the Supreme Court directives of July 2017 in Panama papers case. The Accountability Court commenced trial in the matter during last September.
The three-time premier and his sons Hasan and Hussain were accused in all the three graft references whereas his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Muhammad Safdar were accused in the Avenfield reference only.
Sharif was ousted and disqualified from holding office by the Supreme Court in July 2017 and jailed earlier this year in absentia as he was apprehended on July 13 upon returning from London. However, on September 19, Islamabad High Court granted bail to Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law Capt (r) Safdar.
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