Pakistani court sentences ex-PM Sharif to 10 years in prison

Maryam Nawaz outside the Avenfield apartments today. She will hear the verdict with her father and former finance minister Ishaq Dar- Geo News

Maryam Nawaz outside the Avenfield apartments today. She will hear the verdict with her father and former finance minister Ishaq Dar- Geo News

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in the massive corruption scandal that caused his ouster last year.

The trial of Sharif and Nawaz, 44, was an outgrowth of the original corruption case related to the financing of apartments in London and other overseas properties owned by members of the family, one of Pakistan's political dynasties.

NAB officials told the local media Maryam's husband Muhammad Safdar, who is in Pakistan, will be arrested on Monday after his warrant is obtained.

But in the ruling that ousted Mr. Sharif from office past year, the Supreme Court concluded that he and his family members could not adequately explain how they were able to afford the expensive London apartments and that they failed to provide a money trail.

The conviction means Maryam Sharif will be disqualified from contesting the elections.

A defiant Nawaz Sharif Friday said he has been sent to jail because he tried to free the people of Pakistan from the slavery imposed on them by some generals and judges and vowed to continue his political struggle from behind the bars.

Sharif, 68, is in London with his daughter, Maryam, was convicted after failing to prove a legal source of income for buying several luxury flats in the 1990s.

Both denied wrongdoing and will appeal the decision, said Sharif ally Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, adding that the former premier would return to Pakistan before the election.

Amid tight security, the court delivered the much-anticipated verdict after postponing it for five times during the day in the Avenfield corruption case - pertaining to the ownership of four flats in the posh Avenfield House in London. According to National Accountability Bureau (NAB) court, Sharif family failed to show proper money trail behind purchase of such high-valued apartments.

Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rasheed remarked that a "political bigwig has been sentenced for the first time in Pakistan's history".

Sharif had denounced the court proceedings against him as politically motivated and a judicial witch-hunt, often suggesting the hidden hand of the military was to blame.

The PML-N immediately rejected the verdict, calling it legally flawed.

PML-N officials also accuse the military of using its muscle to twist the arm of the media to restrict coverage of criticism of the judiciary and military by Sharif and his allies.

Following the coup he was allowed to go into exile in Saudi Arabia, returning in 2007 before becoming prime minister for a third time in 2013.

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