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Pakistan's ex-PM Nawaz Sharif faces corruption charges over Panama Papers leak

A Pakistani court has indicted former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter and son-in-law on corruption charges stemming from documents leaked from a Panama law firm.

A lawyer for 67-year-old Sharif, who is in London, where his wife is receiving medical treatment, entered a plea of not guilty.

The former prime minister's daughter Maryam Sharif and her husband Mohammad Safdar attended the hearing at the Accountability Court in Islamabad and also pleaded not guilty.

Sharif told reporters in London that he will go back to Pakistan to attend the next court hearing, scheduled for October 26. In televised comments, he claimed he was removed from office by judges on a trivial charge.

The charges stem from a trove of documents, known as the Panama Papers, that investigators say showed the family held unreported assets overseas. The family has denied any wrongdoing.

Maryam Sharif denied the allegations as "baseless" after leaving the courtroom. She said her father would return to Pakistan and they would "face these cases with courage".

The former prime minister is unlikely to be arrested on his return home as the court has already granted bail.

His political future has been hanging in the balance since July, when the Supreme Court disqualified him from being prime minister.

A senior leader of his party, the Pakistan Muslim League, said: "We knew justice would not be done." Rana Sanaullah said there were "hidden hands" behind Sharif's dismissal and the spate of corruption allegations.

Sharif was re-elected as party leader earlier this month after parliament approved a bill allowing officials disqualified by courts to hold party offices.

The move angered opposition parties who say Sharif is continuing to rule through a "puppet" prime minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

AP

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