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Nawaz Sharif sentenced to 10 yrs in jail for graft

By The Assam Tribune

ISLAMABAD, July 6 - Pakistan�s deposed premier Nawaz Sharif was today sentenced in absentia to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment by an anti-graft court in one of the three corruption cases against him in the Panama Papers scandal, dealing a huge blow to his party ahead of the elections on July 25.

Sharif�s 44-year-old daughter and co-accused Maryam was given seven years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of � 2 million, while her husband Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar was jailed for one year for not cooperating with the anti-graft authorities.

Amid tight security, the court delivered the much-anticipated verdict after postponing it for five times during the day in the Avenfield corruption case � pertaining to the ownership of four flats in the posh Avenfield House in London.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had filed the case, along with two others, on the Supreme Court�s directives in the landmark Panamagate verdict last year which disqualified Sharif, the three-time Prime Minister.

Sharif, 68, is currently in London attending to his wife Kulsoom Nawaz who was diagnosed with throat cancer last year.

The ruling came weeks before the general elections in Pakistan on July 25 and analysts say it could adversely hit the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the party headed by Sharif.

After the verdict, Maryam and Safdar were disqualified from contesting elections.

NAB Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi said the accused have 10 days to file an appeal against the verdict.

Soon after the verdict, Maryam, considered to be Sharif�s heir apparent, took to Twitter to share this message: �This is a very small punishment for firmly standing in front of unseen forces. The morale to fight against oppression has increased today.�

Islamabad-based accountability court judge Mohammad Bashir pronounced the verdict behind closed doors. Earlier, he had rejected the application of the Sharif family seeking a seven-day postponement in announcement of the verdict.

�The court sentenced Sharif to 10 years rigorous imprisonment and fined � 8 million (over $ 10 million). Maryam was given seven years of rigorous imprisonment and imposed � 2 million (over $ 2.6 million) and her husband Muhammad Safdar was awarded one year rigorous imprisonment,� the NAB prosecution team chief Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi told media outside the court.

The court also ordered confiscation of Avenfield apartments in favour of Pakistan. The fine money will go into the state treasury. � PTI

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