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Pakistan court rejects former PM Sharif's bail plea

Pakistan court rejects former PM Sharif's bail plea
FILE PHOTO - Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif arrives to the district High Court ahead of a hearing on treason allegations, in Lahore, Pakistan October 8, 2018. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza -
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MOHSIN RAZA(Reuters)
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By Asif Shahzad

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - A Pakistani court on Monday rejected a plea by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to be released on bail and have a seven-year prison term over the ownership of a steel mill in Saudi Arabia suspended, court documents showed.

Sharif is currently serving a seven-year sentence imposed last year for failing to disclose the source of income that allowed him to acquire the Al-Azizia Steel Mills in Saudi Arabia. He has appealed.

Monday's ruling related to an additional plea for bail on medical grounds after Sharif was admitted to hospital for treatment for a heart condition.

The court ruled his condition didn't qualify him for bail because all medical facilities were available to him.

"We're surely disappointed by this decision," Sharif's aide, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, told reporters, adding that a government medical board had called for urgent treatment. But he said his party would respect the court decision.

"We have always respected court decisions," he said. "We will take all necessary legal recourse."

Pakistan's Supreme Court removed three-time premier Sharif from office in July 2017 for not disclosing part of a salary drawn from his son's company and he was later convicted in two separate cases of failing to disclose sources of income.

In one of these cases, relating to the ownership of upmarket properties in London, the high court granted him bail last September, suspending a 10-year sentence until a final decision into his appeal against the conviction.

The appeal process in both cases is continuing.

Sharif has termed the charges against him politically motivated and accused the military and courts of working together to end his political career and destabilise his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party.

The PML-N lost to the party of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, the new prime minister, in July polls. Sharif accused the military of backing Khan.

Khan and the military deny the accusation.

(Writing by Asif Shahzad; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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