Nawaz Sharifs' jail sentences suspended in corruption case, to be released

IHC may announce verdict on Sharifs’ pleas today

"Today, the Islamabad High Court has suspended the verdict against Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and his son-in-law Captain Safdar and ordered to release them on bail until a final decision", Khawaja Haris, Sharif's lawyer, told AFP.

Sharif, his daughter Maryam and son-in-law Muhammad Safdar were convicted in July by an anti-corruption court of not being able to prove the source of assets used to purchase a set of upmarket London flats.

Dozens of jubilant supporters chanted "Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif!" outside the court.

The convictions are still under appeal with the same High Court, but a judge on Wednesday ruled the pair should be freed immediately while the case continues. Ordering their release, the bench directed Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law to submit bail bonds worth Rs 500,000 each.

He said Maryam Nawaz had told the Panama Joint Investigation Team (JIT) that she is her father's dependent. The court also orders the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to open a criminal trial into ownership of the London flats along with several other Panama Papers revelations.

File image of Nawaz Sharif.

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Reacting to Wednesday's decision, Senator Javed Faisal, a close aide of Prime Minister Khan, said the court only suspended Sharif's sentence and those of his family members, and did not acquit them.

The Islamabad High Court made the decision on the corruption case handed down to the Sharifs by an anti-graft tribunal earlier this year.

Safdar was arrested by the NAB authorities in Rawalpindi on July 9 while Nawaz Sharif and Maryam were taken into custody by the officials few minutes after their flight landed at Lahore's Allama Iqbal International Airport on Friday night and shifted to Adiala Jail. Sharif was sentenced in absentia to 11 years in prison, while Maryam was sentenced to eight years and Safdar was sentenced to one years in prison in the Avenfield properties reference.

Justice Athar then remarked "This is an important case and it would have been great if we concluded it today".

At this, Qureshi said that "since the properties belong to a foreign jurisdiction, therefore, it is a distinguished case and these were not applicable to this case".

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