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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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