Islamabad, Sep 20 (IANS): The Islamabad High Court on Wednesday ordered the release of jailed former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Muhammad Safdar, providing them huge relief and prompting celebrations among supporters.
Sharif, Maryam and Safdar had been sentenced in July to 10 years, seven years and one year respectively for corruption on charges of owning four upmarket flats in London. They were convicted after they failed to prove the source of assets used to purchase the properties.
The ruling was delivered by Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb on petitions filed by the three, Geo News reported.
The court granted bail to the three and ordered them to pay Rs 500,000 as surety bonds. The sentences of the three-time Premier, his daughter and son-in-law will remain suspended till the final adjudication of the appeals filed by them.
“We accept the petitioners’ pleas seeking a suspension in their sentences,” Justice Minallah said, adding that the National Accountability Bureau, Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog, was unable to prove a financial link between Sharif and the apartments in question.
The verdict sparked wild celebrations among Sharifs’ supporters outside the courtroom. Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) President Shehbaz Sharif took to Twitter to express gratitude on suspension of the sentences.
“Truth has come and falsehood has departed.”
Former Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, a staunch Sharif ally, termed the judgment a “victory for justice” while congratulating the former Prime Minister, who lost his wife to cancer last week.
Calling the court’s decision “a triumph of justice”, PML-N party leader Ahsan Iqbal said: “The trial was not according to the law. It was revenge. It was pre-poll rigging to keep Sharif out of the election process.”
The July 6 verdict against Sharifs came less than three weeks before the general elections in Pakistan, which were won by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Party, led by current Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Sharif was in London when the court sentenced him and he was arrested along with his daughter and son-in-law upon his return to Pakistan.
In July 2017, Pakistan’s Supreme Court had ousted Sharif as Prime Minister and barred him from public office for life after an investigation spurred by the publication of the Panama Papers found that he failed to disclose payments from a company belonging to his son in the UAE.