LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hanif Abbasi was released from Camp Jail on Saturday two days after the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) suspended his life sentence in the ephedrine quota case.
The LHC approved Abbasi’s bail petition on Thursday after a two-judge bench headed by Justice Aalia Neelum ordered the PML-N leader’s release.
On the directives of Lahore High Court (LHC), Abbasi had submitted two separate surety bonds worth Rs10 million for the completion of his bail.
On the other hand, he has been shifted to Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat Jail from Sheikh Zaid Hospital owing to his frail health.
On July 22, three days ahead of the general elections, an anti-narcotics court sentenced Hanif Abbasi to life imprisonment while absolving seven others over ‘benefit of doubt’ in the ephedrine quota case.
It was the first time in the country’s judicial history that a verdict was announced this late at night, around 11:40 pm, despite the fact that it was reserved around 12:00 pm in the day.
The verdict had become somewhat controversial after media was barred from the courtroom, which was also locked from the inside. The judge had also ordered Hanif Abbasi to stay inside the room.
Soon after Judge Mohammad Akram announced the much-delayed verdict, Abbasi was taken into custody by the Anti-Narcotics Force from the court’s premises.
The PML-N workers, however, tried to hinder his arrest and later resorted to violence outside the court. They reportedly attacked the court building and smashed the glass windows.
The case involves illegal allocation of ephedrine quotas worth Rs7 billion to two pharmaceutical companies – Berlex Lab International and Danas Pharmaceutical. Other than Abbasi, son of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Ali Musa Gilani and former health minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin were also accused in the case.
Abbasi faced charges of misusing 500kg of the controlled chemical ephedrine which he obtained for his company, Gray Pharmaceutical, in 2010.
The Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) had registered a case against Abbasi and his accomplices in June 2012 under various sections of the Control of Narcotics Substances (CNS) Act. A company cannot be allocated more than 500kg of the drug, a limit fixed by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).
ANF officials claimed the substance was sold by Abbasi to narcotics smugglers who used it to make ‘party drugs’.
Abbasi has denied the charge, calling it “blatant political victimisation”. He along with other, including his brother, were indicted in 2014 by the CNS Court.