Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif sentenced to seven years in prison

Sharif has been convicted on corruption charges following revelations in the Panama Papers

Supporters of Pakistan's former prime minister Nawaz Sharif gather outside the anti-corruption court in Islamabad on December 24, 2018, ahead of the court verdict against Nawaz in the Al-Azizia and Flagship Investment cases. The accountability court was set to decide the fate of the three-time prime minister in the Al-Azizia and Flagship Investment cases on December 24. / AFP / FAROOQ NAEEM

Ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been sentenced to seven years in prison by an accountability court, local television reports.

The court found the three-time prime minister was unable to prove the source of income for the steel mill he owned in Saudi Arabia. He was acquitted in another case due to lack of evidence, Geo News reported.

Sharif was taken into custody in court.

Security was tightened around the court in Islamabad before the verdict and a thousand police officers were on standby, the government said.

Supporters of the former prime minister and his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party protested outside the court building after the decision. Police fired teargas to disperse the protesters, local television channels said.

This is the second time Sharif has been convicted following evidence of financial wrongdoing leaked in the Panama Papers in 2016.

In July, Sharif was sentenced to ten years in prison by a federal court, but that was suspended by a High Court in September.

His supporters claim the conviction is a politically motivated collusion between the judiciary and Pakistan's powerful security establishment. Sharif denies the charges and members of his party say they will protest the decision.

Sharif was ousted and then prosecuted after the 2016 Panama Papers leak linked his family to offshore companies and four luxury flats in London's Park Lane.

The former-premier was arrested 10 days before general elections in July, which was won by cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan.

The months-long saga has seen him appear before accountability courts 165 times since September 2017, according to the English-language Dawn newspaper.

Sharif's younger brother, daughter and son-in-law have also been prosecuted in the case.


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