RAWALPINDI: While acquitting the other seven accused on the basis of ‘benefit of the doubt’, an anti-narcotics court on Saturday handed down life imprisonment to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hanif Abbasi in the eight-year-old ephedrine case.
According to the judgment, issue late at night, Hanif Abbasi, the PML-N candidate from NA-60 against Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid, failed to defend himself, and the charges levelled against him proved to be true.
The Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) officials later arrested the PML-N leader – who also stands disqualified from the July 25 polls due to his conviction – from the court premises. Abbasi was reportedly shifted to Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail, where ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter, and son-in-law are also imprisoned.
The court had reserved the judgment, which was announced after a delay of several hours at 11pm. Strict security arrangements were made at the court with the deployment of a large a large numbers of police officials.
PML-N workers and supporter were also present in the court area in large number started protesting at the court’s central gate after the announcement of the verdict. They also broke glass panes of the building and raised slogans. PART ONE
Speaking to Daily Express, Abbasi said that he was neither sorry nor disappointed by the judgment. “I will challenge the verdict in the high court,” he said. According to a TV channel, the ANF officials took Abbasi into custody and escorted him through the door into the judge’s chamber, rather than using the court’s central gate.
The case involved illegal allocation of ephedrine quotas worth Rs7 billion to two pharmaceutical companies – Berlex Lab International and Danas Pharmaceutical. Other than Abbasi, Ali Musa Gilani – son of former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani, and former health minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin were also accused in the case.
Abbasi was booked in the case (41/2012) registered under sections 9(c), 15 and 16 of the Control of Narcotics Substances Act, 1997. The FIR was lodged on the complaint of Lt Col Syed Tauqeer Abbasi Zaidi posted at the ANF’s Rawalpindi directorate police station. The applicant submitted that he was avoiding arrest as the case against him was registered with mala fide intent.
The ANF in the investigations had claimed that Abbasi obtained 500kg ephedrine for manufacturing medicines in 2010 but instead sold the chemical to smugglers. On July 11, the Lahore High Court directed the anti-narcotics court to fix daily hearings for the case and pass judgment by July 21.
The case proceedings continued for six years during which five judges changed and statements of 26 evidences were recorded. The case was heard for the first time in March 2011.
The ANF submitted a challan against Abbasi on July 27, 2012. The pharmaceutical company of Abbasi and his brother was charged for getting far more ephedrine than it needed in 2010, but allegedly selling it after two years to narcotics sellers.
The other accused nominated in the case were Ghazanfar, Ahmed Bilal, Abdul Basit, Nasir Khan, Siraj Abbasi, Nazakat and Mohsin Khursheed.