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Ousted Pakistani PM Sharif gets 10-year jail term ahead of polls

A Pakistani court on Friday (July 6) sentenced ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to 10 years in prison for corrupt practices linked to his family's purchase of upscale London flats, in a major blow to his party ahead of general elections on July 25.

The guilty verdict in absentia against Sharif, 68, threatens to end the career of one of Pakistan‘s most high-profile politicians of the last four decades, a political survivor who was prime minister three times.

Sharif’s daughter, Maryam, widely seen as his chosen political heir, was sentenced to seven years in prison. Maryam’s husband and PML-N lawmaker Muhammad Safdar was handed a year in jail, prosecution lawyer Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi told reporters.

Ousted Pakistani PM Sharif arrives home to face jail

Ousted Pakistani PM Sharif arrives home to face jailOusted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam arrived back to Pakistan on Friday (July 13) to face lengthy prison sentences, in a high-stakes gamble to galvanize their beleaguered party ahead of a July 25 election.The plane carrying Sharif and his daughter touched down in the central city of Lahore at around 8:45 p.m. (1645 GMT). The pair, who were sentenced in absentia on corruption charges last week, was arrested soon after their arrival and escorted from the airplane by uniformed men, a Reuters reporter on board said. A spokesman for Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party confirmed they were arrested soon afterward.Mobile phone service had been cut off in mid-afternoon, as Sharif's brother, Shahbaz, led around 10,000 party supporters on a march towards the city center in defiance of a citywide ban on public gatherings, according to a Reuters witness.Sharif alleges the military is aiding a "judicial witch-hunt" against him and his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party. The party's past five years in power has been punctuated by the civil-military discord that has plagued Pakistan since its inception.Sharif's PML-N expects a groundswell of support as he returns from London, where his wife Kulsoom is critically ill and undergoing cancer treatment.Sharif's return comes at a time of dwindling fortunes for his party, which a year ago was considered a runaway favorite to retain power.Recent opinion polls suggest PML-N is losing its lead nationally to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party of arch-rival Khan, whose anti-corruption message has resonated with many Pakistanis.Sharif was ordered jailed in a case stemming from 2016 Panama Papers revelations that showed they owned the apartments through off-shore companies. Maryam was convicted for concealing ownership of the apartments. They both deny wrongdoing.

Posted by NTV Houston on Friday, July 13, 2018

The conviction means Maryam Sharif will be disqualified from contesting the elections.

The NAB court ordered Sharif to pay a fine of 8 million pounds ($10.6 million) and fined Maryam 2 million pounds, while ordering the confiscation of the London properties on behalf of the Pakistani government, Abbasi said.

Sharif and his daughter were in London on Friday with Sharif’s wife, Kulsoom, who is being treated for cancer and is in a coma after suffering a heart attack last month.

Both denied wrongdoing and will appeal the decision, said Sharif ally Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, adding that the former premier would return to Pakistan before the election.

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