Pakistan Court Acquits Maryam Nawaz of Corruption
A court in Pakistan quashed last week the conviction of Maryam Nawaz, the daughter of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, after she was sentenced to seven years in prison for taking part in the purchase of luxury flats in London with money she couldn’t explain how she earned.
Maryam Nawaz, currently the vice-president of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) told reporters outside the court that “justice has been served, and I am thankful to God.”
The scandal over the flats erupted after reporters found them in the Panama Papers leak that the children of Nawaz Sharif were the beneficiaries of offshore companies through which the luxury properties were purchased.
Her father, the former PM, was sentenced to 10 years but was given bail in 2019 to seek medical treatment. He went to the U.K. and never came back.
A two-judge panel at the Islamabad High Court found the prosecution failed to prove corruption in the purchase. The Avenfield apartments are owned by her brothers.
The court has also acquitted her husband Mohammad Safdar who was sentenced to one year in prison in 2018 for giving false information during the investigation.
Nawaz Sharif was ousted from his post in July 2017 for lying about his wealth after the Panama Papers leaks showed that he and his family had undeclared businesses in Saudi Arabia and the apartments in London.
He denied the corruption charges and repeatedly said the cases against him were politically motivated. He accused the country's powerful military and courts of working jointly to end his political career.
“The legal community has always felt that Maryam Nawaz's conviction was politically motivated, especially after a leaked video of an accountability judge in which he had admitted that he had convicted Sharif under duress,” Osama Malik, a lawyer in Islamabad, told OCCRP.
“The acquittal is, therefore, very much welcome. However, it also shows how pliant the judicial system is and how easily the powerful military can use it against politicians who don't follow the military's line,” said Malik.
“The edifice of lies, slander & character assassination has come crumbling down today,” Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, the younger brother of Nawaz Sharif, wrote on Twitter.
“Maryam Nawaz's acquittal in the Avenfield Reference is a slap in the face of the so-called accountability system that was employed to target the Sharif family,” he said.