A Pakistani court on Wednesday ordered the release of jailed ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter, suspending the sentences they received from a lower court in July and prompting celebrations among supporters waiting outside.
The Islamabad High Court suspended the 10-year sentence for Sharif and the seven-year term handed down to his daughter, Maryam, over corrupt practices linked to his family’s ownership of upscale London flats.
“Justice has been served and I congratulate Nawaz Sharif’s supporters,” former foreign minister Khawaja Asif, a staunch Sharif ally, said outside the courtroom where Sharif’s supporters were seen celebrating wildly.
The Sharifs’ convictions are still under appeal with the same Islamabad High Court, but a judge on Wednesday ruled they should be freed immediately while the case continues.
Three-time prime minister Sharif was ousted and disqualified from holding office by the Supreme Court in July 2017 and jailed earlier this year in absentia. He was arrested on July 13 upon returning from London, where his wife was receiving treatment before her death this month.
Sharif has repeatedly called the cases against him politically motivated, suggesting collusion between the powerful military and courts to destabilise his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party and throw him out of power.
“The prosecution has failed to show the properties belong to Nawaz Sharif. It also failed to prove how was Maryam Nawaz sentenced under the same charge sheet which convicted Nawaz Sharif,” Justice Athar Minallah told the court.