Pakistan's former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison by a corruption court in Islamabad today, lawyers said, dealing a serious blow to his party's troubled campaign ahead of July 25 elections.
Abbasi added that National Accountability Bureau (NAB) court ordered Sharif to pay a fine of $10.6 million (8 million pounds) and Maryam was fined $2.65 million (2 million pounds), while ordering the confiscation of the London properties on behalf of the Pakistani government.
"The entire Pakistan will witness on July 25 whether these parties are strong or the masses", he remarked. Sharif's family insisted that they had purchased the apartments with "legitimate" financial resources but were unable to disclose those resources before either the accountability court or the Supreme Court. It's unlikely that Pakistan would seek his extradition and the former premier has repeatedly said he would eventually return home for other trials that he faces.
The trial of Sharif and Nawaz, 44, was an outgrowth of the original corruption case related to the financing of apartments in London and other overseas properties owned by members of the family, one of Pakistan's political dynasties.
The family is in London tending to Sharif's ailing wife, Kulsoom Nawaz Sharif. They are likely to file an appeal against this verdict.
Sharif was disqualified from office past year by the Pakistan Supreme Court, which declared him "dishonest" for not disclosing a separate monthly income from a company owned by his son.
"The party campaign now depends on Nawaz's decision to return", said Rasul Baksh Rais, prominent analyst and professor of political science at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).
The PML-N immediately rejected the verdict, calling it legally flawed.
Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rasheed remarked that a "political bigwig has been sentenced for the first time in Pakistan's history".
He said the decision was also an effort to influence the upcoming elections.
The verdict in the Avenfield reference case was read out by accountability court Judge Mohammad Bashir after postponing the announcement four times in a day.
Khan is running on a socially conservative, anti-corruption platform. "Nawaz Sharif has always fought bravely", he added.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) court handed down the verdict after a series of delays.
November 2, 2016 - Supreme Court agrees to set up a judicial commission to probe corruption allegations against Sharif, stemming from Panama Papers leaks.