Ex-Pakistani PM appears before anti-corruption court

 02 Oct 2017 - 9:37

Ex-Pakistani PM appears before anti-corruption court

AFP

Islamabad: Sacked Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made a second appearance before an anti-corruption court Monday, as reports said he was expected to be indicted on corruption charges that could ultimately see him jailed.

A helicopter hovered over the Islamabad court and supporters chanted slogans from behind security barriers as Sharif arrived in a convoy of BMW SUVs, escorted by elite police guards.

Media along with many lawyers and officials -- including Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal -- were prevented from entering the court, with security forces forming a human barrier as the former premier entered.

The Supreme Court deposed Sharif in July following an investigation into corruption allegations against him and his family, making him the 15th prime minister in Pakistan's 70-year history to be ousted before completing a full term.

The allegations were sparked by the Panama Papers leak last year, launching a media frenzy over the lavish lifestyles and high-end London property portfolio of the Sharif dynasty.

The Supreme Court also banned him from holding public office and ordered the country's anti-corruption watchdog, the National Accountability Bureau, to open a criminal case against him along with his sons Hussain and Hassan and his daughter Maryam.

Pakistani media reported that Sharif is expected to face a criminal indictment in the case Monday. The charges have not yet been confirmed, but a criminal conviction for corruption could see him facing imprisonment.

Sharif has faced such challenges before. In 1993 he was sacked from his first term as prime minister for corruption, while in 1999 he was sentenced by a military court to life in prison after his second tenure ended in an army coup.

That time he was allowed to go into exile in Saudi Arabia, returning in 2007 before winning the premiership for a third time in 2013.

Sharif made his first appearance before the anti-corruption court last week.

He later held a press conference in which he vowed a landslide win for his ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party in general elections due to be held by the end of next year, and insisted he was seen as innocent in the court of public opinion.

"For God's sake let this country move according to the constitution and if the constitution gives the people the right to rule, accept it," he said. 

Last month his wife Kalsum, who is being treated for throat cancer in London, won his former parliamentary seat during a by-election in Lahore in a poll seen as a test of the PML-N's popularity after his ousting.