Pakistan's former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been released from prison, two months after he began a 10-year jail sentence for corruption. "The prosecution has failed to show the properties belong to Nawaz Sharif", Justice Athar Minallah told the court.
Opposing the suspension of the jail term of Sharifs, NAB special prosecutor Mohammad Akram Qureshi argued that "after the fixation of appeals against the conviction of the Sharif family in the Avenfield reference, the IHC could not have entertained petitions seeking suspension of sentence", the Dawn reported.
Sharif, who served three non-consecutive terms as prime minister, was in London during his trial earlier this year. His Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party lost the election on July 25 to the rival Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf led by former cricket hero Imran Khan.
Sharif remains barred from running for public office for life, after the Supreme Court in April ruled that he had lied on a parliamentary wealth declaration and that the disqualification from that crime would last for an indefinite period.
Dozens of jubilant supporters chanted "Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif!" outside the court after the decision was announced. From there, they were to fly to the eastern city of Lahore.
At one stage, they shocked the bench by saying that the Supreme Court's judgments in Khalid Aziz and Ghaniur Rehman cases wherein parameters were set for shifting the burden of proof on the accused were "irrelevant" in the instant case as the monetary transactions as well as assets were overseas. The charges stemmed from leaked papers from a Panama law firm.
Nawaz Sharif, daughter Maryam Nawaz to be released, Islamabad HC suspends jail sentences
"Their supporters should not celebrate so much as they will likely have to go again to Adiala prison", Faisal said.
However, analysts see the decision as a definite boost for Sharif's party and supporters.
Ahsan Iqbal, Sharif party lawmaker and former interior minister, said the anti-graft tribunal had convicted Sharif, his daughter and son in-law without any legal grounds, but "based on a vendetta".
The ousted prime minister and his daughter will be freed from jail after completion of formalities.
He was expelled from office in 1993 on suspicion of corruption.
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