TITLE=PAK / SHARIF CONVICTION (L)
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
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)
22-Jul-2000 12:17 PM LOC (22-Jul-2000 1617 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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