April 20 (UPI) — Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that though there is insufficient evidence to remove Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from power, authorities must further investigate corruption allegations.
Sharif was first accused of corruption after three of his children were linked to offshore accounts uncovered by the 2015 Panama Papers leak. After two months of deliberation, a five-judge Supreme Court panel first set up in November said a new investigation must be conducted.
The judges said the new investigation must include testimony from Sharif and his children. Sharif’s family has denied wrongdoing and said the accusations are politically motivated attacks. Sharif’s sons, Hussain and Hasan, and his daughter, Maryam, are accused of being linked to offshore companies that owned properties in London.
Though owning overseas property is legal in Pakistan, protesters have called into question how Sharif’s family acquired the funds to purchase the property.
In a 3-2 ruling, the court said it needed more information on the alleged illicit money trail and gave a 60-day deadline for a report. Sharif could be dismissed as prime minister.
“A special bench will be constituted to look into the matter after the final report and whether the prime minister’s disqualification can be considered,” Justice Asif Saeed Khosa said.
The corruption allegations led to massive protests, which increased pressure on the Pakistani authorities that led to the Supreme Court establishing its own investigation.