Crime & Justice

Pakistan court acquits ruling party’s Maryam Sharif of corruption

Islamabad, Sep 29 (EFE).- A Pakistani court on Thursday acquitted Maryam Nawaz Sharif, a prominent leader of the ruling party and daughter of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, in a five-year old corruption case linked to the Panama Papers leak.

The Islamabad High Court revoked the National Accountability Bureau’s decision, which had sentenced Maryam – vice president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) – to seven years in prison, along with a one-year sentence for her husband Muhammad Safdar.

The case dates back to April 2016, when the publication of the Panama Papers revealed that three of Nawaz Sharif’s four children had registered companies in the British Virgin islands, through which they controlled luxury properties in London.

In the course of investigation, Maryam was handed the prison term in July 2018, although after several appeals she was granted bail while her case was being heard by higher courts.

The judge dealing with the case, Aamer Farooq, said in his verdict on Thursday that the probe had not been able to “prove the link of Maryam Nawaz and Nawaz Sharif with the case of assets beyond means.”

“We cannot announce a verdict on the basis of public knowledge of some hearsay,” he added, according to local media reports.

After the verdict, Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, brother of Nawaz Sharif, tweeted that “the edifice of lies, slander & character assassination has come crumbling down today.”

He added that his niece’s acquittal was “a slap in the face of the so-called accountability system that was employed to target Sharif family.”

“This is how lies come to end,” Maryam herself told reporters outside the courtroom.

She claimed that no other leader in the country’s history had gone through as much financial scrutiny as her father, who was disqualified from his post in July 2017 by the Supreme Court for not reporting income received from his son’s company, an irregularity that was discovered during the probe launched following the Panama Papers leak.

In 2018, just three weeks before the general elections, Nawaz was sentenced to 10 years in prison, although later he was granted bail and traveled abroad for medical treatment.

Maryam said that her family had been the victim of a malicious campaign by the main opposition party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, led by ex-PM Imran Khan, who had won the July 2018 elections.

The PML-N alleges that Khan had been backed by the military.

“Had Nawaz remained here (in Pakistan, Imran could not have come into power,” Maryam insisted. EFE


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