Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hanif Abbasi, who was handed life imprisonment in the ephedrine case last year, has reportedly left the country and is currently residing in the United States (US).
According to media reports, Abbasi is living with a former PML-N leader at his residence in Alexandria, Virginia and plans to stay out of the country “until the situation in Pakistan improves”.
A trial court had sentenced Abbasi to life in prison back in July 2018, after he was found guilty of illegally selling 500kg of ephedrine — a medication and stimulant used to prevent low blood pressure during spinal anesthesia — to narcotics smugglers.
The ephedrine case surfaced in March 2011 when then federal minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin told the National Assembly that the government will investigate the alleged allocation of a quota for the production of 9,000kg of ephedrine to two pharmaceutical companies — Berlex Lab International and Danas Pharmaceutical Limited.
According to the rules, a company cannot be allocated a production quota of more than 500kg of the drug, a limit fixed by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).
The Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) had eventually registered a case in June 2012 against nine suspects, including Abbasi. He was accused of obtaining the controlled chemical for his company, Gray Pharmaceutical, in 2010.
However, instead of using it for medicinal purposes, Abbasi sold it on to narcotics smugglers. A fine of Rs1 million was imposed on the PML-N leader along with the life sentence. Seven other accused were acquitted in the case.
Abbasi’s sentence was suspended by the Lahore High Court (LHC) in April this year.