Ousted Pakistan PM Sharif jailed seven years for corruption
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Former Pakistani leader Nawaz Sharif was sentenced to seven years in prison for corruption Monday, state media reported, the latest conviction in a series of allegations which saw him ousted from power last year.
Sharif, a three-time prime minister, has denied all the charges against him and claims he is being targeted by the country's powerful security establishment.
Monday's conviction, centred on family businesses in the Middle East, is his second stemming from a corruption investigation spurred by the Panama Papers leak, and comes as new Prime Minister Imran Khan has vowed to tackle endemic graft in Pakistan. The anti-corruption court said in its ruling that the three-time prime minister was unable to prove the source of income that led to his ownership of a steel mill in Saudi Arabia.
He was taken into custody and will be sent to a prison in Lahore, and was also fined 1.5 billion rupees ($10.8 million), according to state-run Pakistan Television. Sharif had already been sentenced in July to 10 years in prison by the same court on charges related to the purchase of upscale apartments in London after the Supreme Court removed him from power. He was released in September pending an appeal.
Scuffles at sentencing
Security was tight at the court, with some scuffles breaking out between Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supporters and security forces, who responded with tear gas.
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who succeeded Sharif as prime minister last year, said the PML-N would appeal the verdict but would "not resort to violence".
"The people of Pakistan and history will not accept this decision," he told reporters in Islamabad.
The Supreme Court disqualified Sharif from politics for life over the allegations last year, and directed an anti-corruption body to investigate three different charges regarding his family's properties and businesses.
The months-long saga has seen him appear before accountability courts 165 times since September 2017, according to the English-language Dawn newspaper.
He was in London at the time, where his wife was receiving cancer treatment, but returned to Pakistan days ahead of the election, only to be arrested and imprisoned on arrival.
Sharif has been prime minister three times but power has been a rough ride. He was first expelled from office in 1993 on suspicion of corruption. He won an election in 1997, only to be ousted and exiled after a military coup in 1999. He returned to Pakistan in 2007 and took power once more in 2013 until his ousting last year.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)