Former Pakistani PM Sharif freed from prison after 2 months

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will be released from prison just two months into his 10-year sentence, Pakistan’s high court ruled Wednesday.

Supporters of former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif celebrate in Multan, Pakistan, Wednesday after a court ordered his release. Sharif had served about two months of a 10-year sentence for corruption. Photo by Faisal Kareem/EPA-EFE
Supporters of former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif celebrate in Multan, Pakistan, Wednesday after a court ordered his release. Sharif had served about two months of a 10-year sentence for corruption. Photo by Faisal Kareem/EPA-EFE

The three-time leader was in prison for a corruption scheme related to the Avenfield luxury properties in Britain. He was convicted and sentenced in July for the scheme.
Wednesday, the Islamabad Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision and ordered Sharif released.

His conviction will stand but his sentences is suspended.

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“Today is a happy day that our leader will be released from jail,” Hamza Shehbaz, Sharif’s nephew, said. “This verdict from the anti-corruption court, it was clear that there was no corruption proved against Nawaz Sharif.

“Today’s fundamental news is that the verdict by the anti-corruption court against Nawaz Sharif was very weak, and … hopefully, we will continue our legal battle against all the other cases.”

Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt. Muhammad Safdar also had their sentences suspended Wednesday. The three were cheered by supporters as they left the prison Wednesday. It was believed they would return to Lahore, Pakistan.

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The two-judge panel said the evidence in the case was insufficient to persuade them of Sharif’s guilt.

“The prosecution has failed to show the properties belong to Nawaz Sharif,” Justice Athar Minallah said. “It also failed to prove how Maryam Nawaz was sentenced under the same charge sheet which convicted Nawaz Sharif.”

Maryam Nawaz Sharif had been sentenced to seven years and Safdar one year. Sharif has maintained that the charges were politically motivated.

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Their release is a morale boost to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party, but the opposing party seized power in July and the next election won’t come until 2023.

Sharif’s wife and former first lady Begum Kulsoom Nawaz died last week after a year-long battle with cancer. Family members were released from jail temporarily to attend her funeral.

ByNicholas Sakelaris