Former Pakistani prime minister indicted on corruption charges

Nawaz Sharif and family members face allegations arising from Panama Papers

Pakistan’s former prime minister Nawaz Sharif speaks during a news conference in Islamabad, Pakistan, on September 26th, 2017. Photograph: Faisal Mahmood/Reuters

Pakistan’s former prime minister Nawaz Sharif speaks during a news conference in Islamabad, Pakistan, on September 26th, 2017. Photograph: Faisal Mahmood/Reuters

 

A Pakistani court has indicted former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter and son-in-law on corruption charges stemming from documents leaked from a Panama law firm.

A lawyer for 67-year-old Sharif, who is in London, where his wife is receiving medical treatment, entered a plea of not guilty.

The former prime minister’s daughter Maryam Sharif and her husband Mohammad Safdar attended Thursday’s hearing at Islamabad’s accountability court. They also pleaded not guilty.

Mr Sharif told reporters in London that he will go back to Pakistan to attend the next court hearing, which is scheduled for October 26th.

In televised comments, he claimed he was removed from office by judges on a trivial charge.

The charges stem from a trove of documents, known as the Panama Papers, which investigators say prove that the family held unreported assets overseas.

The family has denied any wrongdoing.

Maryam Sharif said the allegations were “baseless” after leaving the courtroom. She said her father would return to Pakistan and they would “face these cases with courage”.

Mr Sharif is unlikely to be arrested on his return home as the court has already granted bail.

His political future has been hanging in the balance since July, when the supreme court disqualified him from being prime minister.

Rana Sanaullah, a senior leader of Sharif’s party, the Pakistan Muslim League, said there were “hidden hands” behind Sharif’s dismissal and the spate of corruption allegations.

Sharif was re-elected as party leader earlier this month after parliament approved a Bill allowing officials disqualified by courts to hold party offices.

The move angered opposition parties, who say Sharif is continuing to rule through a “puppet” prime minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

AP