Pakistan court dismisses judge who convicted Sharif in graft case over video scandal

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Lahore, July 3: A Pakistani court on Friday dismissed a former accountability court judge over a controversial video scandal in which he purportedly confessed to have sentenced deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif to seven years in a corruption case under pressure.
The Lahore High Court’s seven-member administrative body headed by Chief Justice Qasim Khan announced the decision to dismiss Islamabad accountability court judge Arshad Malik.
Malik had convicted Sharif in December 2018 in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption case and also fined him USD 25 million.
In July 2019, Sharif’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz, released a purported video of Malik in which he confessed that he had been “blackmailed and pressured” to convict the PML-N supreme leader.
He indirectly referred to the intelligence agencies that put pressure on him.
The judge had denied the allegations, saying there was no pressure on him to convict Sharif and that the videos shown by Maryam of his alleged confession at a press conference were “fake and based on lies”.
Welcoming the LHC’s decision on Friday, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif and Vice President Maryam said that dismissal of former Islamabad accountability court judge Malik “proved the innocence” of Sharif.
“Mian sb’s sentence ought to be declared null and void,” said Shehbaz of his brother’s seven-year sentence in the Al Azizia corruption reference.
The three-time premier is vindicated. Finally, justice is done. Now all those decisions by this judge should be declared null and void, Maryam said.
The decision proves beyond doubt that the judge’s decision was not guided by the principles of justice and wrongfully sentenced the three-time prime minister, Shehbaz said.
Shahbaz said justice merits that Sharif should be exonerated and all sentences against him be annulled.
Sharif had left for London in November after the Lahore High Court granted him a four-week permission to go abroad for treatment.
He had submitted an undertaking to the court to return to Pakistan, citing his record of facing the law and justice, within four weeks or as soon as he is declared healthy and fit to travel by doctors.
Sharif, 70, was given bail in the Al-Azizia Mills corruption case, in which he was serving a seven-year prison sentence in Kot Lakhpat Jail.
He was also given bail in a money-laundering case to facilitate his travel abroad.
Sharif was diagnosed with complicated coronary artery/ischemic heart disease with significant disease burden .
His daughter Maryam Nawaz had said that her father was a high-risk patient therefore his cardiac catheterisation/coronary intervention had been postponed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. (PTI)