Ex-PM Sharif sentenced to 10 years for corruption

AFPISLAMABAD (AFP-Jiji) — Pakistan’s former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison by a corruption court in Islamabad Friday, lawyers said, dealing a serious blow to his party’s troubled campaign ahead of July 25 elections.

The verdict, a potentially significant boost for the main opposition party led by former World Cup cricketer Imran Khan, immediately raised questions over whether Sharif will return to Pakistan from London, where his wife is receiving cancer treatment. Pakistan has no extradition treaty with the U.K.

Sharif was ousted from his third term as prime minister by the Supreme Court last year following a corruption investigation and banned from politics for life, but remains a powerful symbol for his ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

Speaking at a press conference in London, Sharif framed the charges against him as a conspiracy by the powerful military, which has ruled Pakistan for roughly half its 70-year history.

“This punishment cannot stop me from my struggle,” Sharif said, adding he would return and face prison as soon as he is able to have a word with her wife, who is on a ventilator. He also urged his supporters to vote for his party at upcoming national elections later this month.

Small protests broke out after the verdict at the court in Islamabad, which was surrounded by heavy security, and in some other Pakistani cities including Multan in Punjab, Sharif’s provincial stronghold.Speech

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