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Pakistan court issues arrest warrant for ex-PM Sharif, says lawyer

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif speaks during a joint news conference in Kabul May 12, 2015. — Reuters picFormer Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif speaks during a joint news conference in Kabul May 12, 2015. — Reuters picISLAMABAD, Oct 26 — A Pakistani court today issued arrest warrants for ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif in two cases of corruption spiralling from the Panama Papers leak, his lawyers said.

Sharif is currently in London with his wife Kalsum as she undergoes cancer treatment, and has not returned to Pakistan since he was indicted in the corruption allegations earlier this month, despite reports he would do so.

“The accountability court issued bailable warrants for the former prime minister in two cases of alleged corruption today and adjourned (the) hearing until November 3,” one of his defence lawyers, Zafir Khan told AFP.

In late July the Supreme Court sacked Sharif following an investigation into corruption allegations against his family, making him the 15th premier in Pakistan’s 70-year history to be ousted before completing a full term.

The claims against the prime minister stemmed from the Panama Papers leak last year, which sparked a media frenzy over the luxurious lifestyles and high-end London property portfolio owned by his family.

Sharif has faced — and come back from — similar challenges in the past.

In 1993 he was sacked from his first term as premier for corruption, while in 1999 he was sentenced to life in prison after his second term in office ended with a military putsch.

Following the coup he was allowed to go into exile in Saudi Arabia, returning in 2007 before becoming prime minister for a third time in 2013.

Last month his wife Kalsum won his former parliamentary seat during a heated by-election in Lahore, in a poll seen as a key test of the ruling party’s popularity after Sharif’s sacking and ahead of a general election due to be held sometime next year. — AFP

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