Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and handed an £8 million ($10.5 million) fine over corruption charges related to his family’s purchase of overseas properties, dealing a blow to his party’s prospects ahead of a general election later this month.
His daughter Mariam Nawaz, widely seen as Sharif’s anointed political heir, was also found guilty and is facing seven years in prison and a £2 million ($2.6 million) fine. Her husband Captain Safdar has received a one-year jail sentence.
Judge Mohammad Bashir handed down the sentences in a court in Islamabad Friday. None of the defendants were present for the verdict — Sharif and his daughter are currently in London with Sharif’s wife, who is receiving cancer treatment, and Safdar is in Pakistan but was reportedly unable to attend.
All three have been barred from engaging in politics for 10 years and four properties in London will be confiscated by the Pakistani state, according to the verdict. They have 10 days to appeal the verdict at the Islamabad High Court.
Sharif’s brother, Shahbaz Sharif, who inherited the leadership of the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PMLN) last year, said in a statement that the party “strongly rejects the verdict.”
“The decision is flawed, politically motivated and has glaring loopholes,” he said.
Zahid Hussain, a political author and journalist based in Islamabad, said that the verdict would mark “the end of the Sharif political dynasty.” Before his political demise, Sharif had been at the helm of Pakistan’s turbulent politics for more than three decades.
“The conviction of Nawaz Sharif and his daughter has dealt a huge blow to the former prime minister,” Hussain told CNN. “This is the first time a former prime minister has been convicted on corruption charges in Pakistani history.”
“This is the end of Mariam Nawaz’s career before it even started,” he added.
Hussain also expects huge ramifications in the political landscape ahead of the election. “The verdict has changed the political dynamics in Pakistan completely,” he said. “There is already demoralization amongst the PMLN candidates and early polls have shown that the PMLN has been losing ground to their main opponent, the PTI, Imran Khan’s party.”
Sharif was ordered by the Supreme Court to step down from the Prime Minister’s office in July 2017 following a government probe into his family’s wealth after publication of the Panama Papers.
The court ruled that Sharif had been dishonest to Parliament and to the judicial system and was no longer fit for office.
Sharif was not named in the Panama Papers, but his three children were linked in the documents to offshore companies.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) later found that Sharif had acquired four apartments in Avenfield House, a luxury apartment block close to Hyde Park in London. It is those properties that are due to be confiscated, according to the verdict.
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