An anti-corruption court has indicted former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law, in the latest development set off by disclosures in the Panama Papers.
The Panama Papers revealed the the family used offshore companies to buy expensive London properties.
Sharif resigned in July after Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled he was disqualified to hold the country’s highest office for having assets “disproportionate to his known means of income.”
Sharif did not attend the Oct. 18 hearing. He was in London, where his wife is undergoing surgery, and sent a plea of not guilty. His daughter Maryam Sharif and his son Mohammad Safdar pleaded not guilty at the hearing.
In sickness & in health …….
A solemn vow. pic.twitter.com/gbnDmb9gRy
— Maryam Nawaz Sharif (@MaryamNSharif) October 10, 2017
Sharif labelled the proceedings a “murder of justice”, when speaking to reporters in London after the announcement.
“You tell me if this is justice or murder of justice,” he asked reporters.
He said he would not accept the decision because it did not expose any “corruption or government kickbacks”.
Also speaking afterwards, Maryam Sharif, who had been seen as her father’s eventual successor, said the family would fight the charges.
“I refuse to accept the charges,” she said outside the courthouse. “We are being denied a fundamental right to justice.”
Sharif’s supporters have blamed his troubles on the military, which ousted him in 1999. And, despite his continuing legal problems the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), re-elected him as its leader earlier this month.
The indictment was triggered by a National Accountability Bureau report on three cases of corruption and money laundering that involved Sharif, his family members and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.
The Panama Papers had reported that three of Sharif’s children were owners or had the right to authorize transactions for several companies, including two that owned “a UK property each for use by the family” of the companies’ owners. Sharif’s daughter Mariam Safdar was the owner of the two British Virgin Islands-based firms.
According to the Guardian newspaper, hours before the indictment, a delegation from the accountability bureau arrived in London to collect evidence of the property owned by the Sharif family.
The bureau has asked the Pakistani interior ministry to request Interpol to issue red warrants for Sharif’s sons Hussain and Hassan in order for them to be extradited from the UK. The interior minister, Ahsan Iqbal, a close associate of Sharif, has yet to comply.