ISLAMABAD, June 8: The former speaker of the National Assembly, Yusuf Raza Gillani, was convicted to five years rigorous imprisonment (RI) by an accountability court here on Saturday with a fine of Rs1 million on charges of misuse of authority.

Accountability Judge Mohammad Aslam Khan of court III convicted the ex-speaker for causing a loss of Rs10.6 million through the misuse of official transport, official telephones, setting up of camp offices at Lahore and Multan and purchase of luxurious vehicles at higher the prices than the market prices.

In case of default of payment of fine, the former speaker has to undergo another term of one year RI. However, Gillani has been granted the benefit of section 382-B of the criminal procedure code under which his sentence will be counted from the day when he was arrested — Feb 10, 2001.

The court has also barred the ex-speaker from holding public office or taking any monetary gains from any financial institutions for a period of 10 years.

Gillani, who is facing another reference of illegal appointments in the National Assembly from 1993 to 1997 “in flagrant violation of the rules,” however, expressed his disappointment over the verdict, and said: “It will certainly dismay democratic forces of the country and will send another wrong signal to the free world from where we often seek aid and help in the name of fair play, democracy and rule of law,” he observed.

“Conspirators against me and the committed prosecutors of the NAB will be seeking rewards and admiration for achieving another conviction from a NAB court,” he observed.

Denying the charges, he said these charges were concocted and were fabricated to pressurise him to leave the PPP and join a political party which had only leaders and no followers.

“Since I was unable to oblige them, they decided to convict me so that I could be disqualified and an example set for other political leaders who may learn to behave as good boys,” he said.

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