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Thursday, 6 April, 2000, 06:53 GMT 07:53 UK
Sharif: What happens next?
Mrs Sharif
Sharif's wife prayed for her husband's deliverance
Nawaz Sharif's lawyers now have seven days to lodge an appeal with the provincial high court, which must be settled within 30 days.

Pakistan in crisis
The case is subject to the system Mr Sharif introduced himself, to allow "speedy justice" to serious crimes such as terrorism.

If that fails, they can take the appeal to the country's supreme court, which analysts say could be a much longer process.



Musharraf: "Not a vindictive person"
Supporters of the system say the appeals process is an important guarantee against miscarriages of justice, since some admit the special courts do not fulfil international standards of justice.

Ironically, the former prime minister would have gone before a military court had his ambitious legal reforms not been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

Ambiguity

If the verdict against Mr Sharif is upheld on appeal, the case enters the realms of constitutional ambiguity stemming from the military coup which deposed Mr Sharif in October 1999.



Sharif supporter have kept the faith
The Pakistani President, Muhammad Rafiq Tarar, a Sharif appointee who has stayed in his job, holds the power to issue pardons or reduce sentences.

But the country's military ruler, General Perves Musharraf, hinted that he had given himself a role in the former prime minister's fate.

He told a news conference before Thursday's court decision that "a reduction of the sentence could only be considered after the verdict", Pakistan's Khabrain newspaper reported.

He added that he "was not a vindictive person by nature".

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See also:

27 Mar 00 | South Asia
Sharif lawyers demand acquittal
20 Mar 00 | South Asia
Death penalty sought for Sharif
30 Nov 99 | South Asia
Analysis: Justice under scrutiny
24 Mar 00 | South Asia
Musharraf 'planned hijack'
13 Oct 99 | South Asia
Profile: Nawaz Sharif
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