Pakistan court orders release of former PM Nawaz Sharif on bail

Sharifs' jail sentences suspended in corruption case, to be released

The Islamabad High Court on Wednesday ordered the release of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam, and suspended the jail sentence that was awarded to them by a National Accountability Bureau (NAB) court, according to Reuters.

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.

The accountability court judge Mohammad Bashir had sentenced the trio on July 6. Sharif was sentenced in absentia to 11 years in prison, while Maryam was sentenced to eight years and Safdar was sentenced to one years in prison in the Avenfield properties reference.

The Sharifs were taken to Adiala jail in Rawalpindi.

Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law will now each have to pay 500,000 Pakistani rupees (roughly $4,000) in separate surety bonds before their release.

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"Soon after the news spread, supporters of the former prime minister and his daughter Mariam Nawaz danced in the streets, distributed candies and chanted slogans", NPR's Diaa Hadid reports from Karachi. A large number of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders, including Shehbaz Sharif, Pervaiz Rashid and Khurram Dastgir, were present in the courtroom for the hearing. The bench also imposed a fine on the NAB lawyers earlier for using delaying tactics.

The development is the latest twist in a series of court cases involving the former prime minister, beginning with his ouster from office previous year in the Panama Papers verdict to facing multiple corruption references in the accountability court. He faces several court cases at home.

Senior anchorperson Abdul Moiz Jafferii said that only the sentences of the Sharif family have been suspended, but they haven't been freed as such.

Sharif, 68, daughter Maryam, 44, and his son-in-law were arrested in Lahore on July 13 soon after they arrived in Pakistan from London. Leader of the opposition and Sharif's younger brother, Shahbaz, following the verdict, tweeted a Quranic verse to express gratitude on suspension of the sentences.

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