DATE=7/22/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=PAK / SHARIF CONVICTION (L) NUMBER=2-264697 BYLINE=AYAZ GUL DATELINE=ISLAMABAD CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: A special court in Pakistan has sentenced deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to 14 years in prison on tax evasion charges. Mr. Sharif has also been barred from holding public office for 21 years in addition to a fine of almost 400-thousand dollars. Ayaz Gul was in the courtroom and files this report. TEXT: The judge of the special court set up in a 16th century fort near Islamabad took less than two minutes to pronounce Nawaz Sharif guilty of tax evasion. He sentenced Mr. Sharif to 14 years in prison and said the former Pakistani leader would serve three more years in jail if he fails to pay the fine. The case against the country's twice-elected prime minister involves a helicopter worth one-million dollars that prosecutors say Mr. Sharif owned during the mid-1990s but failed to declare on his tax returns. After the sentence was announced, a grim-faced Mr. Sharif told reporters he was not surprised by the verdict. He accused the country's military leader, General Pervez Musharraf, of carrying out a personal vendetta. He said the general is trying to keep him out of politics and discredit him. Mr. Sharif had boycotted much of the court proceedings, saying he was not given enough time to consult his lawyers. But Chief Prosecutor Farooq Adam Khan denied Mr. Sharif's charges of vindictiveness. /// Khan Act in Urdu - fade under /// Mr. Khan says the trial was free, fair and open. He says there was no interference by the army in the proceedings against Mr. Sharif. Prosecutors say the government is looking into many more allegations of corruption against Nawaz Sharif, who is already serving a life sentence on a hijacking and terrorism conviction. The military rulers, who ousted Mr. Sharif last October, have established a special accountability law, which they say is needed to clean up Pakistan's deeply corrupt political system. (SIGNED) NEB/AG/JP 22-Jul-2000 12:17 PM LOC (22-Jul-2000 1617 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .
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