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Pakistan anti-corruption court indicts former prime minister Nawaz Sharif

Thompson Reuters



ISLAMABAD — A Pakistani anti-corruption court has indicted ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter over allegations linked to ownership of London properties on Thursday, opening a trial that could see the former leader jailed.

The Sharifs have called the corruption proceedings against them a conspiracy, hinting at intervention by the powerful military, but opponents have hailed it as a rare example of the rich and powerful being held accountable.

Sharif, 67, resigned in July after the Supreme Court disqualified him from holding office over an undeclared source of income, but the veteran leader maintains his grip on the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party.

Judge Bashir Ahmad of the court that tries cases registered and investigated by an anti-graft body, National Accountability Bureau (NAB), indicted Sharif, his daughter Maryam Sharif and her husband, Muhammad Safdar. They all pleaded not guilty.

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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 ailing wife in Britain as she undergoes cancer treatment. Maryam said in the court that the charges were unfounded and baseless.

“This will go down in history as a travesty of justice,” she said.

Outside the court, Maryam again hinted at military interference in the judicial process by saying the trial was “a repeat of 1999”, the year her father was toppled in a military coup led by former army chief Pervez Musharraf.

It is not clear if she was comparing the trial to the coup, or subsequent corruption accusations and investigations that Musharraf ordered into Sharif.

Sharif`s disqualification stemmed from the Panama Papers leaks in 2016 that appeared to show that his daughter and two sons owned offshore holding companies registered in the British Virgin Islands and used them to buy posh flats in London.

The Supreme Court initially declined to dismiss Sharif but ordered an investigation into his family`s wealth.

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A separate Supreme Court-appointed panel said the family`s wealth did not match its income, and accused Maryam and her brothers of signing forged documents to obscure ownership of offshore companies used to buy the London flats.

After the probe, the top court disqualified Sharif and ordered the NAB to investigate and conduct a trial. Sharif denies ever receiving the small source of income that led to his disqualification.

The NAB has in the past been described as toothless because of its low conviction rates, especially when it comes to powerful politicians, and investigations that last many years.

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Passenger bus falls from bridge, leaving 12 dead, injuring 46 in India’s Sitamadhi

Gorkha Post



File photo

PATNA — At least 12 people were killed and 46 others injured on Saturday after a passenger bus carrying them fell from a bridge in India’s eastern state of Bihar, officials said.

A bus carrying over 60 passengers fell off a bridge in Bihar’s Sitamarhi district, about 130 kilometres north of state capital Patna, killing 12 persons on the spot on Saturday evening, local media reported.

The accident took place at around 6 pm on the National Highway 77 near Bhanaspatti village under Runnisaidpur area of the district. Police said the bus was heading to Aurai via Runnisaidpur from Muzaffarpur.

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Reports said following the accident, some of the witnesses informed police who rushed to the spot along with health teams to carry out rescue operation.

Of the injured, 34 were admitted to the primary health centre (PHC) at Runnisaidpur while 12 were rushed to the Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) in Muzaffarpur.

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