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Former Pakistani PM Sharif Freed From Prison On Bail


Nawaz Sharif (file photo)

Pakistan's former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter, and son-in-law have been released from prison after a court suspended their prison sentences in a corruption case.

Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, and Mohammad Safdar were released from Adiala prison in the garrison city of Rawalpindi in the evening on September 19, and were being taken to the airport, officials said.

Television footage showed a security vehicle driving the Sharifs through a massive crowd of supporters, some showering rose petals on the vehicle while others waved flags and chanted slogans.

Earlier, the Islamabad High Court announced the decision ordering their release on bail pending their appeal hearings.​

The court ordered the trio be freed once they each post a bond of 500,000 rupees ($4,000).

Dozens of supporters waiting outside the courtroom chanted "Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif!" after the decision was announced.

"Today's decision is a victory for justice," said former Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif.

Another ex-minister, Ahsan Iqbal, told reporters that the court "suspended the decision that was based on revenge."

However, Senator Javed Faisal, an ally of Prime Minister Imran Khan, pointed out that the court only suspended Sharif's sentence and those of his family members, and did not acquit them.

"Their supporters should not celebrate so much as they will likely have to go again to Adiala Prison," Faisal said.

Prosecutors in the case, the National Accountability Bureau, said they would appeal the ruling and take the case against Sharif to the country's Supreme Court.

An accountability court in July sentenced the former leader and his daughter to 10-year and seven-year terms in prison, respectively, over the purchase of luxury apartments in London in the 1990s.

Safdar was given a one-year prison term.

They were also barred from seeking public office for up to 10 years after release.

The three have denied wrongdoing, with Sharif calling the charges political motivated.

He suggested collusion between the country’s powerful military and courts to throw him out of power and destabilize his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party ahead of general elections.

Pakistan Tehrik-e Insaf (PTI) leader Imran Khan became prime minister after the party won the most parliamentary seats in the July 25 vote.

Sharif, who has served as prime minister for three nonconsecutive terms, was disqualified from office by the Supreme Court last year over corruption allegations.

He was briefly released from prison in Rawalpindi earlier this month for the funeral of his wife, who died from cancer in London.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP, and Dawn
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