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Pakistan

Sharif acquitted on hijacking charges

Article published on the 2009-07-17 Latest update 2009-07-17 10:05 TU

Nawaz Sharif (Photo: Reuters)

Nawaz Sharif
(Photo: Reuters)

Pakistan’s Supreme Court overturned convictions against former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for hijacking and terrorism, removing the final barrier to his ability to hold office.

The charges stemmed from an incident in 1999, when Sharif’s government forced a plane carrying General Pervez Musharraf to reroute, though this did not stop Musharraf from sweeping to power in a military coup shortly thereafter.

The court ruled that there was no evidence to support the charge of hijacking.

“Looking at the case from any angle, the charge of hijacking, attempt to hijack or terrorism does not stand established against the petitioner,” the ruling stated. The “petitioner had neither used force nor ordered its use and undisputedly no deceitful means were used”.

Sharif has always maintained that the charges were politically motivated, and after his conviction he negotiated a way to avoid jail time by going into exile. Sharif ended his exile in 2008 ahead of elections, but was not allowed to run because of the conviction.

Ever since Musharraf was pushed out of office in August 2008, Sharif has sought to have his conviction overturned.

His Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) party welcomed the decision.

“A judgement given by a kangaroo court nine years ago has been nullified by an independent and sovereign apex court in the light of the constitution, law and evidence on record,” PML-N spokesperson Siddique-ul-Farooq said.

The ruling means that Sharif will be able to run in the 2013 elections, or possibly in a by-election before then.

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