Al-Azizia corruption case | Pakistan court to hear Nawaz Sharif’s appeal against his conviction

Nawaz Sharif. File
| Photo Credit: Reuters

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) will hear on December 7 an appeal by former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif against his conviction in the Al-Azizia steel mill corruption case.

Mr. Sharif (73) was sentenced to seven years in jail and imposed a heavy fine by an anti-corruption court in December 2018 after he failed to convince the court that he had nothing to do with the steel mill set up by his father in 2001 in Saudi Arabia.

Mr. Sharif was serving the jail term in the case when he was granted rare permission to seek medical treatment abroad in October 2019.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo chose not to return from London despite repeated court summonses, leading to both the Islamabad High Court and an accountability court declaring him a proclaimed offender.

Mr. Sharif, the only Pakistani politician who became the Prime Minister of the coup-prone country for a record three times, returned to the country about four years later last month to lead his party in general elections scheduled in February 2024.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) maintained that the mill was established by using the corruption money Mr. Sharif accumulated during his rule, a charge he denied while saying that part of the funds for the facility was provided by the Saudi government.

It was also stated during the hearings that the Qatari royal family had invested in the mill while Mr. Sharif’s father Muhammad Sharif chipped in with $5 million as his share.

However, the defence side failed to provide credible proof of funds used to set up the mill and the former premier was declared as guilty.

Mr. Sharif has already been acquitted in the Avenfield corruption case in which he was convicted in July 2018 and sentenced to ten years in Jail. He also got relief in the Flagship corruption case in which he was declared innocent by the court in 2018 but the acquittal was challenged in the IHC by the NAB. Last week, the anti-corruption watchdog withdrew its appeal and Mr. Sharif’s innocence was restored in the Flagship case.

Sharif landed into hot waters in 2017 when disqualified by the Supreme Court following a protracted tussle with the military establishment. The top court ordered the NAB to prosecute in three three cases. He was convicted in two and acquitted in one.

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