Friday 19 January 2018

Arrest warrant for ex-Pakistan PM Sharif after court no-show in corruption case

Nawaz Sharif leaving the office of the Joint Investigation Team in Islamabad in June (AP)
Nawaz Sharif leaving the office of the Joint Investigation Team in Islamabad in June (AP)
Nawaz Sharif is facing corruption charges in Pakistan

A Pakistani judge has issued an arrest warrant for former prime minister Nawaz Sharif after he failed to appear in court in Islamabad to face corruption charges.

The developments are the latest in a saga surrounding the disgraced Sharif who was dismissed from office in July by the Supreme Court for concealing assets abroad.

Judge Mohammad Bashir also rejected a request from Sharif's lawyer Khawaja Haris that the former premier be exempted from court appearances in the Pakistani capital to remain in London, where his ailing wife is having medical treatment.

Sharif's daughter Maryam Nawaz and her husband Mohammad Safdar - both charged in the same case - were present in the courtroom, but Sharif's two sons, also charged in the case, were absent. The sons are in London.

The judge scheduled the next hearing for November 3.

Sharif, who has been indicted in three corruption cases over concealing assets abroad, has skipped several court hearings so far. Under Pakistani law, he can be arrested as soon as he returns from abroad unless he is granted bail before the next hearing.

The 67-year-old and his family members have criticised the judiciary since he was removed from office on charges stemming from a trove of documents - known as the Panama Papers - that investigators say showed the family held unreported assets overseas.

Sharif and his family have denied any wrongdoing. After leaving the courtroom, Nawaz said her father was being victimised.

Also on Thursday, Pakistan's election commission dropped contempt charges against a top opposition leader, cricket-star-turned-politician Imran Khan, after he submitted a written apology for making insulting remarks against the commission.

Mr Khan, whose supporters hope to see him as prime minster after elections next year, angered the commission earlier this year when he said it was biased.

On Thursday, he told the commission that his criticism was not intended as an insult and that he respects the courts.

AP

Press Association

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