Pakistan court delays indictment of ex-PM Sharif after clash

Violet Powell
October 15, 2017

An anti-corruption court today adjourned the indictment of Pakistan's ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law in the Panama Papers case till October 19 after lawyers created chaos in the court.

Sharif family on Friday moved the Supreme Court to halt the proceeding of the accountability court in three corruption cases.

As the lawyers clashed with security personnel inside the court room, Judge Bhashir left immediately, later announcing that the proceedings of the case are deferred till October 19.

On October 3, Sharif was re-elected as president of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

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"He (Sharif) has nominated a representative to appear before the court to face the indictment and deny the charges", he said. Sharif again failed to appear before the judge because his wife is ill and being treated in London. Taking notice of the incident, the interior ministry asked Islamabad Police to compile a detailed report of the incident. She said the lawyers should have been permitted to attend the hearing. She said she actually does not know where the incident occurred and who manhandled lawyers and what its objective was.

Sharif and his sons - Hussain and Hassan - have been named in three NAB references, while Maryam and her husband have been named only in a reference related to the family's London flats. After the rejection of petition, it is highly likely that Sharif, Maryam and Safdar would be indicted tomorrow during the hearing, unless the court delays it.

The anti-graft body NAB had frozen the bank accounts and seized properties of Sharif and his family members to put pressure on them to appear before the court. However, Nawaz Sharif did not appear before the court on Friday. He set Oct 13 for his, Maryam and Safdar's indictment. He may be jailed after the indictment. Unfortunately, the strategy followed by the defence from the outset is apparently one of bogging down the judicial process in hair-splitting legal technicalities and procedural glitches, and aggressive speeches against the judiciary by a group of zealous PML-N loyalists, including cabinet ministers.

Sharif was disqualified from office in July.

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