A Pakistani court on Wednesday ordered the release of jailed ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter, suspending the sentences they received from a lower court in July and prompting celebrations among supporters waiting outside.
The Islamabad High Court, hearing a petition from Mr. Sharif's lawyers, said Wednesday he should be set free on bail pending his appeal, according to the court order.
Justice Minallah read the judgment and suspended the sentences handed to the three by the anti-corruption court on July 6.
In the July 6 decision, Accountability Judge Muhammad Bashir had sentenced Sharif to 10 years rigorous imprisonment (RI), Maryam to seven years RI and Safdar to two year (RI).
A division bench of the IHC comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb heard the petitions filed by former premier Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Capt (retd) Safdar. The court has also ordered them to pay Rs (Pakistani) 0.5 million as surety bonds.
The court held that despite conducting a thorough investigation, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), which sent Sharif and his daughter to jail, "couldn't bring any evidence of Nawaz Sharif's ownership of the Avenfield apartments".
The duo were recently released on a bail to attend the final rites of his wife, Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, who passed away in London on September 12.
Apart from the Avenfield case, the Sharifs face jail terms if they are convicted in two more corruption cases related to Al-Azizia and Flagship cases.
The development is the latest twist in a series of scandals involving the former prime minister, beginning with his ouster from office past year to several corruption cases and trials that he faces.
He said that the trial court's decision stated itself that no corruption was proven against Nawaz Sharif and time will prove his innocence. The charges stemmed from leaked papers from a Panama law firm.
Sharif was disqualified from office by the country's Supreme Court previous year over corruption allegations.
NAB has said that it will challenge the appeal in the Supreme Court once the court order is issued. They deny all wrongdoing. "Indeed is falsehood, [by nature], ever bound to depart".