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Tuesday, 15 August, 2000, 16:24 GMT 17:24 UK
Sharif appeals conviction
Pakistani armymen at Karachi airport
The military overthrew Sharif last October
By Idrees Bakhtiar in Karachi

A court in Pakistan has begun hearing an appeal by the ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, against his conviction on charges of hijacking and terrorism.

Mr Sharif was sentenced to life imprisonment after being found guilty of the charges which relate to the night of the military coup last October.

Six others who were accused with Mr Sharif were not found guilty and were acquitted by an anti-terrorism court in April.

At the time Mr Sharif's lawyers had said they would appeal against the decision, which they describe as manifestly unfair.

But the process has been subjected to various delays.

Now the Sindh High Court has finally begun hearing his appeal.

Contradictions

Mr Sharif's lawyer, Azizullah Sheikh, told the court there were glaring contradictions in the testimonies given by the three key prosecution witnesses.

Sharif's lawyer
Azizullah Sheikh: Glaring contradictions in testimony
He said he believed the witnesses had been intimidated by supporters of General Pervez Musharraf, who overthrew Mr Sharif's elected government last year.

However, the same court is also due to shortly begin hearing the appeal of the prosecution, which is demanding Mr Sharif's sentence be overturned and he be given the death penalty instead.

In any event, the appeals process is likely to be a lengthy one and it may take some time before decisions on either of these appeals are taken.

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See also:

22 Jul 00 | South Asia
Sharif convicted of corruption
06 Apr 00 | South Asia
Life sentence for Sharif
25 May 00 | South Asia
Blow for Sharif lawyers
06 Apr 00 | South Asia
Sharif: What happens next?
10 Apr 00 | South Asia
Musharraf says Sharif trial 'fair'
09 May 00 | South Asia
Pakistan after the coup: Special report
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