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Pak judge 'blackmailed' into issuing verdict against Sharif: Maryam

2019-07-07

PTI

Lahore, Jul 7 - Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Maryam Nawaz has released a video clip purportedly showing an accountability court judge allegedly confessing that he was "blackmailed and forced" to convict former premier Nawaz Sharif in a corruption case.

Addressing a press conference in Lahore on Saturday alongside the top leadership of the PML-N, Maryam, the daughter of 69-year-old Sharif, said that her father's entire judicial process was severely compromised.

Sharif has been serving a seven-year prison term at the Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore since December 24, 2018 when the accountability court convicted him in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills case - one of the three corruption cases filed in the wake of the apex court's July 28, 2017 order in Panama Papers case.

Sharif and his family have denied any wrongdoing and allege that the corruption cases against them were politically motivated.

Maryam claimed Accountability Court Islamabad Judge Arshad Malik, who sentenced Sharif to a seven-year imprisonment in the Al-Azizia corruption case, confessed in his conversation with PML-N supporter Nasir Butt that he was "blackmailed and forced (by hidden forces)" to give verdict against the former premier.

The video purportedly shows the judge speaking to Butt and claiming that he was coerced to hand down the prison sentence against Sharif despite there being no proof of corruption against him.

The Imran Khan government termed the leaked video "doctored" and demanded its forensic audit, saying that "it is an attack on the judiciary."

Maryam said this was a "divine help" as her father failed to get justice in cases against him.

She said Judge Malik had categorically declared that there was no evidence of money laundering, commission or any other wrong financial transaction against Sharif but he had "orders to send him jail for which I am repenting."

The judge was "blackmailed" into handing down the sentence against Sharif after some people threatened that they would release a private video of his, she alleged. She said the judge did not write the sentence but "was made to write" the prison sentence for Sharif.

She claimed the judge was under immense pressure to send the former prime minister to jail, and that he had contemplated committing suicide several times since.

Maryam said after the revelation of the video her father should not be kept behind the bars any more. She also hinted to use this video in the bail case of Sharif in Islamabad High Court.

Meanwhile, judge Malik on Sunday rejected Maryam's allegations and said that the former premier was convicted on the basis of evidence.

In a statement, the judge said that serious allegations were made against him and it was a conspiracy to affect his credibility as well as that of the institution and his family.

"Had I announced the verdict under pressure or over greed of bribes, I would not have acquitted him (Sharif) in one case and convicted him in the other," said the judge, who had acquitted Sharif in the Flagship Investments corruption case.

"I also want to make it clear that indirectly or directly, neither was there any pressure on me nor was there any greed," he said.

"The videos shown during the press conference are fake and based on lies and assumptions. Therefore, legal action should be taken against those individuals involved in this," the judge added.

On Sunday, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) issued notices to 21 TV channels for the "unedited live telecast" of Maryam's press conference on Saturday.

In a post shared on Twitter, the media regulatory body said that the unedited live telecast of Maryam's speech "against [the] judiciary and state institutions" was in violation of Pemra's laws and code of conduct.

The TV channels were asked for a show cause within seven days of the issuance of the notice about why appropriate legal action should not be taken against them for the violation.

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