A Pakistani judge has ordered the arrest of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after he failed to appear in an Islamabad court to face corruption charges.
Judge Mohammad Bashir on October 26 issued the arrest warrant for Sharif, rejecting a request by Sharif’s lawyer to allow the former prime minister to be exempt from court appearances so he could spend time in London, where his wife is undergoing medical treatment.
Sharif had been scheduled to return to Pakistan from London for the hearing, but he instead flew to Saudi Arabia several days ago and is believed to be in Jeddah, local media reported.
His daughter, Maryam Nawaz, and her husband, Mohammad Safdar -- both also charged in the case -- were in court for the October 26 hearing. Sharif's two sons, also facing charges, were in London and did not attend.
Sharif, 67, left office in July after Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered his removal following an investigation against his family.
The corruption allegations stem from the Panama Papers leaks in 2016 indicating claims that Sharif and his family owned offshore holding companies and used them to buy property in London.
The Sharifs have called the proceedings against them a conspiracy, hinting at the intelligence services' involvement in the judicial process.
Oppositionists have hailed the case as a rare example of the powerful being held accountable.