Islamabad, July 22: An anti-narcotics court in Pakistan has awarded life imprisonment to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hanif Abbasi in an eight-year-old ephedrine case. According to the judgment, issued late on Saturday night, Hanif Abbasi, the PML-N candidate against Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid, failed to defend himself, and the charges levelled against him proved to be true, The Express Tribune reported.
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 11 p.m. (Pakistan time).
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. 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.
Abbasi was arrested from the premises of the court soon after the sentence was announced. The case involved illegal allocation of ephedrine quotas worth 7 billion Pakistani rupees to two pharmaceutical companies -- Berlex Lab International and Danas Pharmaceutical. Besides Abbasi, Ali Musa Gilani -- son of former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani, and former health minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin were also accused in the case.