Pakistan court exempts former PM Sharif from attending trial

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Police officers make way for a car carrying Pakistan’s ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif arriving to appear in an accountability court in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Wednesday. — AP

ISLAMABAD — A Pakistani judge has exempted former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from attending his corruption trial so that he could visit his wife as she undergoes cancer treatment in London.

The temporary exemption granted by the anti-graft court in Islamabad also applies to Sharif’s daughter, co-defendant in the case.

Sharif, his daughter and her husband appeared in court for Wednesday’s hearing in the trial on corruption charges stemming from documents leaked from a Panamanian law firm.

However, the judge declared Sharif’s two sons — also charged in the same case — as “offenders” for failing to appear in court.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court in July dismissed Sharif from office for concealing assets.

Sharif’s lawyer Amjad Pervez said the exemption for Sharif is for one week only but a month for his daughter.

While the accountability court accepted the ousted PM’s application for exemption from court hearings till Nov. 27, it only conditionally allowed Sharif’s daughter one month’s exemption from court.

Both Sharif and his daughter filed separate applications for exemption from future court hearings.

The ousted PM, in his application, had asked to be exempted from trial hearings as the next spell of his wife’s chemotherapy is about to begin.

“We have been together for 40 years, I can’t abandon my wife in testing times,” Sharif reasoned in his application.

In her application, Sharif’s daughter had said that she would present herself in court whenever there is a hearing. However, she requested the court allow Jahangir Jadoon to represent her in court in case she had to leave the country in case of an emergency.

The NAB prosecutors had objected to both applications, asserting that as neither Sharif nor his daughter are ill, they should not be exempt from attending court proceedings.

As Sharif left the accountability court, he spoke to the media and said, “The Panamagate verdict was given to tell the accountability court to make sure Nawaz Sharif is punished.”

He added that the language used in the verdict mirrors the language that his political opponents use.

“These courts have double standards. On one had we can all see the way my case is being treated, on the other we see how other people’s cases are treated.” — Agencies


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