A Pakistani anti-corruption court on Thursday sued Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter for alleged arrest of property in London and launched a trial that could detain the former leader.
The Sharif have called the corruption proceedings against them a conspiracy which indicates the intervention of the powerful military, but opponents have celebrated it as a rare example for the rich and powerful who are held accountable.
Sharif, 67, resigned in July after the Supreme Court disqualified him from the office for an undeclared source of income, but the veteran leader retains the Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) ruling party.
Judge Bashir Ahmad, who is investigating cases and has been investigated by an anti-grafting body, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), has prosecuted Sharif, his daughter, Maryam Sharif, and her husband, Muhammad Safdar. They all did not plead guilty.
Maryam and Safdar were present in court but Sharif, who was Prime Minister twice in the 1990s, sent a representative while he tends to his sick wife in the UK because she is undergoing cancer treatment.
Maryam said in the court that the accusations were unfounded and unfounded. “This will go down in history as a travesty of righteousness,” she said.
Outside the court, Maryam again pointed to military interference in the trial, saying that the trial was “a repeat of 1999,” the year when her father was overthrown into a military coup led by former army chief Pervez Musharraf has been.
It is not clear whether she compares the trial with the coup, or subsequent corruption accusations and investigations ordered by Musharraf in Sharif.
Sharif’s disqualification comes from the Panama Papers leaks in 2016, which seem to show that his daughter and two sons were owned by offshore holding companies registered on the British Virgin Islands and used to buy classy apartments in London ,
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The Supreme Court initially refused to dismiss Sharif, but ordered an investigation into the wealth of his family.
A separate body appointed by the Supreme Court said that the property of the family did not agree with his income and accused Maryam and her brothers of signing signed documents to obscure the ownership of offshore companies used to purchase the London apartments ,
After the investigation, the Supreme Court disqualified Sharif and commissioned the NAB to investigate and carry out a trial. Sharif denies having ever received the small source of income that has led to his disqualification.
The NAB has been described as toothless in the past because of its low conviction rate, especially when it comes to powerful politicians and investigations that last many years.
But the Supreme Court has concluded the procedure within six months.
The opening arguments will begin on October 26th.