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Pakistan court declares Nawaz Sharif proclaimed offender

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ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani court on Wednesday declared Nawaz Sharif a proclaimed offender after the former premier failed to appear before it despite repeated summons served in connection with two corruption cases.
The two-member bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani heard the case about Sharif’s appeals against convictions in the Al-Azizia and Avenfield cases.
The court said that notices would also be issued to the sureties of Sharif to show the cause for their failure to produce him as per the orders of the court.
The court was informed by officials of the Foreign Office and Interior Ministry that Sharif was duly informed about the summons of the court both in London, where he was living, and his residence in Lahore.
After failing to appear despite clear orders by the court, the bench decided to declare Sharif a proclaimed offender.
Sharif, 70, has been in London since November last year after the Lahore High Court granted him permission to go abroad for four weeks for treating a heart ailment and an immune system disorder.
In October, the court had ordered Sharif to appear before it by November 24 to avoid being declared a proclaimed offender after he allegedly refused to receive non-bailable arrest warrants at his residence in London.
His appeals in the two cases came up for hearing in the IHC which ordered that he should first appear before any proceedings in the appeals.
When he failed to appear, the court issued non-bailable arrest warrants against Sharif on September 15. Later, the court ordered to publish advertisements in London-based newspapers for him to appear by November 24.
Earlier, Sharif was convicted in the two cases in 2018 but subsequently got bail before going to London.
Sharif was sentenced in absentia to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment by an anti-graft court in one of the three corruption cases against him in the Panama Papers scandal in July 2018.
Sharif resigned as Pakistan prime minister in 2017 after the Supreme Court disqualified him from holding public office and ruled that graft cases be filed against the beleaguered leader and his children over the Panama Papers scandal.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had registered three cases of corruption and money laundering against Sharif, his family members, and former Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in the Islamabad Accountability Court.