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The BBC's Owen Bennett-Jones
"Nawaz Sharif knows he is politically iscolated"
 real 28k

Saturday, 22 July, 2000, 20:46 GMT 21:46 UK
Sharif convicted of corruption
Former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif
Mr Sharif is already serving a life sentence
Ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been sentenced to 14 years imprisonment for corruption.

He has also been fined 20m rupees ($400,000) and barred from holding public office for 21 years.

Mr Sharif, who is already serving a life sentence for hijacking and terrorism, has repeatedly accused the military government of attempting to victimise and discredit him.

After the sentence was announced, he said it had come as no surprise.

He said he had been expecting the worst and described the government of military ruler, General Musharaf as "vindictive"."My only hope now," he added, "lies in God".

The trial acquitted one of Mr Sharif's main supporters, and was based on the pair's alleged failure to declare assets and pay tax.

Saif Ur-Rehman was found not guilty, but will remain in custody to answer a separate case relating to a defaulted bank loan.


Kulsoom Nawaz, wife of former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif
Mr Sharif's wife has been fighting his cause
The latest conviction leaves Mr Sharif looking increasingly politically isolated.

His wife Kulsoom has been running a campaign of agitation, demanding his release.

But many members of his political party, the Muslim League, have failed to back the campaign, favouring a policy of non-confrontation with the military instead.

Lawyers for the former Prime Minister had boycotted most of the latest court proceedings, in the town of Attock, about 150km (95 miles) from the capital, Islamabad.

'More to come'

The case against Mr Sharif centred on a helicopter he is said to have owned during the mid-1990s.

Supporters of Nawaz Sharif
Supporters of Mr Sharif are divided over strategy
The Prosecution argued that, despite spending more than $1m on the helicopter, Mr Sharif did not declare ownership and failed to pay tax on it.

The verdict in the helicopter case marks the conclusion of the first of the corruption trials he faces, but there will be many more to come.

Government investigators say they are looking into 18 separate allegations of corrupt practice by the ousted prime minister.

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See also:

09 Jul 00 | South Asia
Sharif supporters detained
08 Jul 00 | South Asia
Pakistan stand-off ends
07 Jul 00 | South Asia
Mass arrest of Sharif supporters
06 Jul 00 | South Asia
Sharif's former colleague testifies
04 Jul 00 | South Asia
Sharif denies party rift
02 Jun 00 | South Asia
Sharif charged with corruption
25 May 00 | South Asia
Blow for Sharif lawyers
07 Jul 00 | South Asia
Muslim League: Signs of rift
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