The Islamabad High Court in Pakistan on Monday denied former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s request for bail in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption case, Dawn reported. A bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani said they had declined the petition because Sharif’s lawyers had only cited his medical condition as a reason for release.
“None of the reports [about Sharif’s condition] suggest that continued incarceration of the petitioner, in any way, would be detrimental to his life,” the court said.
Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) leader and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said the verdict was very disappointing, Dawn reported. “We have always respected court orders,” Abassi said. “We respect this one as well. We will take all legal routes that are available [to challenge]. The treatment required [for Sharif] cannot be provided in jail. It is important that he is released [from jail].”
Earlier in February, the court had reserved a decision seeking a suspension of the case. On February 2, Sharif was shifted to a hospital in Lahore from the prison where he is serving a seven-year jail term in the corruption case.
In January, a court in Pakistan had sentenced Sharif to seven years in jail and fined him $2.5 million (approximately Rs 17.5 crore) in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption case. Sharif is serving the jail term in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail.
The Avenfield and Al-Azizia Steel Mills cases were among three cases filed by the National Accountability Bureau against Sharif and his children in September 2017 – the third being the Flagship Investment case in which the former prime minister was acquitted.
In July 2018, a lower court had sentenced Sharif to 10 years in jail, Maryam Nawaz to seven years and Safdar to a year in prison in the Avenfield case, but in September, the Islamabad High Court ordered their release and suspended their jail terms.
The bureau had filed the cases on the basis of the Supreme Court’s orders in its July 2017 Panamagate verdict, which had disqualified Sharif from the post of prime minister.