Pakistan ex-PM Nawaz Sharif given 10-year jail term

Nawaz Maryam entering the court premises earlier this year

A Pakistani anti-corruption court today sentenced former PM Nawaz Sharif to 10 years and his daughter Maryam for 7 years imprisonment in the Avenfield corruption case.

Sharif's daughter, Maryam Nawasz, was sentenced to seven years in a case stemming from documents leaked from a Panama law firm while her husband, Mohammad Safdar, got a year's sentence for giving false information to investigators. The sentencing also disqualified Nawaz and Safdar for life.

Mr. Sharif was disqualified as Prime Minister in July 2017 by the Supreme Court following a challenge to his office by Opposition leader Imran khan on the basis of publication of the Panama Papers, which alleged that the Sharif family stashed away assets in London through offshore companies Nescoll and Nelson.

The court says he and his family had failed to disclose the source of funds used to purchases luxurious London properties and had not reported them to tax authorities.

He said that the Sharifs would have been arrested much earlier if the institutions in Pakistan were functioning properly. Imran Khan was adamant to pursue the case for which he held rallies and protests.

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Speaking to supporters at Kabul Ground in Swat, he said 22 years ago he came into politics because corruption was taking over the country. Siraj said the NAB judgment is a test for PML-N. Sharif's two sons - Hasan and Hussain - also wanted in the case, have been declared proclaimed offenders owing to their no-show.

The court dismissed applications by lawyers of the defendants on Thursday seeking a seven-day delay in announcing the verdict. He never appeared before the accountability court despite several notices.

Sharif's political opponents hailed the verdict, saying it was the beginning of real "accountability of thieves". A Joint Investigation Team, constituted by a three-member Apex court bench to probe and prosecute the accused, produced 18 witnesses who were cross-examined by the defense counsel. The party is now headed by Mr. Nawaz Sharif's brother Shahbaz Sharif.

"I am returning to the country to face the jail and the handcuffs if this is the price I have to pay for loving my country", the former premier said while addressing a news conference flanked by daughter Maryam.

Although the defendants will be arrested immediately, "they can file an appeal within 10 days to suspend the trial court's order" in the high court, said Ali.

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