Pakistan court acquits former PM Sharif's daughter in graft case

FILE PHOTO: Maryam Nawaz, the daughter of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in Peshawar, Pakistan November 22, 2020. REUTERS/Fayaz Aziz/File Photo

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - A Pakistani court on Thursday quashed the conviction of Maryam Nawaz, the daughter of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, in a corruption case that had seen her sentenced to seven years in jail, her party and defence lawyer said, lifting curbs on her contesting elections.

Maryam Nawaz is seen as the most influential politician in the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) party that has her uncle Shehbaz Sharif leading a coalition government at present.

Her father has presented her as his heir in politics.

A two-judge panel found there was no evidence to prove the prosecution case that Maryam Nawaz abetted any corruption in buying high-end apartments in London, the lawyer Amjad Pervaiz said.

She was convicted by an anti-graft court in 2018 along with her father who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for not being able to disclose a known source of income for buying the properties.

The prosecution had charged Maryam Nawaz with abetment for concealing information about the properties owned by her father.

She was on bail, and had appealed in the Islamabad High Court to overturn the conviction, which she and her party said was political victimization.

Under Pakistani law, a convicted politician is disqualified from contesting elections for five years.

"The lies have a shelf life, it could be some years, but it had to end, like it did today," Maryam Nawaz told reporters after the ruling. "I humbly thank God," she said.

Her father was thrown out of government in 2017 after he ran into serious differences with the powerful military, which, according to political analysts, mostly decides who will rule the 220 million strong South Asian nation.

The corruption cases had stemmed out of the Panama Papers document leak that listed the Avenfield properties in London owned by Sharif's family.

Sharif blamed his ousting on fabricated cases in the courts backed by the military.

The military denies these allegations.

(Reporting by Asif Shahzad; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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