Pakistan's Sharif Gets 14 Years
Jul. 22, 2000
ATTOCK FORT, Pakistan (AP) _ An anti-corruption court on Saturday sentenced deposed premier Nawaz Sharif to 14 years in jail on a charge of tax evasion and disqualified him from politics for 21 years.
Sharif, who is currently serving two concurrent life terms on charges of hijacking and terrorism, also was fined $370,000. Sharif, who claims he is innocent, said he was undecided about whether to appeal.
``I was expecting the verdict,'' Sharif said. ``It is because of a personal vendetta that such a great injustice is being done to me.''
Special anti-corruption courts were set up by the military rulers who threw out Sharif's government in a bloodless coup last October, charging unbridled corruption and economic mismanagement.
Held in a heavily fortified 16th-century fort, the anti-corruption court found Sharif guilty of falsifying his tax returns by neglecting to list a newly purchased helicopter among his assets.
Sharif's former anti-corruption chief Saif-ur Rehman, charged with corruption in connection with the helicopter purchase, was acquitted. It wasn't immediately clear whether Rehman, who faces other corruption charges, would be released.
Sharif, who faces several other charges of corruption as well, has accused the military government of waging a witch hunt against him and his family.
He also has sharply criticized the military government's National Accountability Bureau and the law under which he was tried. The law that established the bureau gives its lawyers and investigators sweeping powers of investigation and arrest.
The law also allows the military government to hold a person suspected of corruption or misuse of power for 90 days before bringing charges.
The government's prosecutor general and author of the law, Farooq Adam, defends the law as necessary to clean up Pakistan's deeply corrupt system.
``This was a free and fair trial,'' he said.
Successive civilian governments have been dismissed in Pakistan because of corrupt practices. The most recent military takeover was widely accepted in Pakistan because of the army's promise to root out corruption and revive the economy.
Since then, scores of politicians, bureaucrats and leading businessmen have been arrested. Some have been charged and others are in jail while allegations of wrongdoing are investigated.