UPDATED at 6:40 a.m. ET
An arrest warrant has been issued for former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after he failed to appear in court to face allegations of corruption.
Sharif, who was ousted in July and pleaded not guilty to the charges last week, failed to appear in court and was slapped with a so-called "bailable arrest warrant." The former premier was on a religious pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia at the time of Thursday's hearing, Pakistani media reports.
The bailable arrest warrant means that Sharif, 67, could avoid arrest by paying bail, but if he declines to do so, the judge might convert the warrant into a non-bailable one.
As we reported a week ago, Sharif was indicted by an anti-corruption court in Islamabad on charges that he had acquired assets "disproportionate to his known means of income." He is also charged with money laundering tied to a Panama law firm.
Sharif's daughter and son-in-law have also been charged with related offenses. The family denies any wrongdoing.
NPR's Diaa Hadid, reporting from Islamabad, reports that analysts believe issuing the warrant ...
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"... suggests the court believes Sharif is guilty – and he's likely to face more trouble when he returns to Pakistan."
"The case against Sharif must be wrapped up in the next few months – just as the country heads into general elections."
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