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World / IN BRIEF: PAKISTAN

Ex-Premier Denies Criminal Charges

November 20, 1999|From Times Wire Reports

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appeared in public for the first time since he was deposed, arriving at court in an armored personnel carrier. Sharif, ousted in an Oct. 12 military coup, appeared fatigued after more than a month in what he described as a cold room in the hills. Sharif reiterated his innocence when he appeared before the court in Karachi, Pakistan's capital, in a legal process that could lead to the death penalty. Sharif and four others were accused last week of criminal conspiracy, hijacking, kidnapping and attempted murder, charges linked to an alleged attempt last month to divert a plane bringing the army chief, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, to Karachi from Sri Lanka. Hours later, Musharraf overthrew Sharif. "The constitution has been kidnapped. Democracy has been hijacked," Sharif said in a private discussion with lawyers, according to Sayed Nihal Hashmi, an attorney for a co-defendant.

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