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

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

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

The ruling came weeks before the general elections in Pakistan on July 25 and analysts say it could adversely hit the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the party headed by Sharif.

Sharif said that if the punishment for "demanding respect for the vote is jail, I am coming to face it".

Nawaz Sharif, speaking to reporters in London late Friday, said he planned to return to Pakistan and was willing to go to prison in his effort to free Pakistanis "of the slavery imposed on them by some generals and judges". A Pakistani anti-graft tribunal has convicted Sharif and sentenced him to 10 years in prison over corruption. The country's National Accountability Bureau handed down the verdict Friday, pairing it with a seven-year sentence for his daughter Maryam, who many consider his political heir. Son-in-law Captain (retd) Safdar has also been given one year for not cooperating in the probe. The court has ordered confiscation of the properties.

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. The sentencing also disqualified Nawaz and Safdar for life.

"We have faith in God and are not anxious", tweeted Maryam Nawaz.

The Sharif family has been charged with corruption in three cases.

"We were the first petitioners in the Panama case".

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Earlier, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan credited his party for taking the Panama scandal into the court.

Nawaz Sharif and his daughter were in those apartments as they listened to the verdict. "Pakistan's future will be better now", PTI's Ali Awan told Arab News.

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. "Even with institutional pressure and this verdict, the party is maintaining its position", he said.

Judge Mohammad Bashir concluded in his written statement that Sharif and his family had failed to disclose the source of funds they used to purchases luxurious London properties and did not report the purchases to tax authorities.

The Sharifs had filed an application on Thursday requesting the court to delay the verdict in the Avenfield reference and grant a seven-day exemption in the wake of Nawaz's wife, Begum Kulsoom Nawaz's deteriorating health.

Sharif, 68, is now in London attending to his wife Kulsoom Nawaz who was diagnosed with throat cancer previous year.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had filed the case, along with two others, on the Supreme Court's directives in the landmark Panamagate verdict previous year which disqualified Sharif, the three-time prime minister.

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