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Wednesday, 16 February, 2000, 12:27 GMT
More testimony against Sharif

Security has been tight at the special court

The trial of ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif entered its fourth week on Wednesday with more statements from prosecution witnesses.

Pakistan in crisis
On Wednesday, the court heard witnesses testify that Mr Sharif had personally ordered the diversion of the General Musharraf's plane from Karachi on 12 October - the day the general seized power in a military coup.

Mr Sharif, his brother, Shahbaz, and five others have been charged with abduction, attempted murder, hijacking and terrorism.

sharif in karachi Mr Sharif could face the death penalty
All have pleaded not guilty, but if convicted of the hijacking charge face a possible death penalty.

The prosecution says Mr Sharif's order to prevent the plane from landing at Karachi airport, despite it being low on fuel, endangered the lives of all those on board.

In a further development,, Judge Rehmat Hussain Jafri said the court would allow the prosecution to produce a logbook showing how much fuel was left in the plane when it was diverted.

A prosecution official said it would be produced in court on Thursday.

Sharif's order

Prosecution witness air force officer Ahmed Farooq told the court that Mr Sharif had given clear orders that the plane should not land in Pakistan.

At the time, Wing Commander Farooq was secretary to the Director General of Civil Aviation, Aminuddin Chaudhry.

He said: "He (the director general) said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had spoken to him and had directed that the aircraft carrying the chief of army staff should not be allowed to land in Pakistan."

Being an airforce officer I knew it was a critical situation
Wing Commander Ahmed Farooq
Mr Farooq said Mr Chaudhry ordered Karachi International Airport closed and told the control tower to tell the pilot that his plane should be diverted "at his own risk."

"Being an airforce officer I knew it was a critical situation," he said, adding: "The plane was running low on fuel and could not fly to the Middle East," as Mr Sharif is alleged to have ordered.

But he said Mr Chaudhry refused to override Mr Sharif's orders.

Mr Sharif's defence lawyers are arguing that he only tried to stop the plane landing after the military coup had been launched.

The prosecution have yet to finish introducing all their witnesses.

After that, Mr Sharif and his co-accused will make statements, then defence witnesses will give their testimonies.

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See also:
09 Feb 00 |  South Asia
Sharif 'diverted aircraft'
02 Feb 00 |  South Asia
Pilot describes coup flight fears
27 Jan 00 |  South Asia
Sharif stops plane 'before coup'
30 Nov 99 |  South Asia
Analysis: Justice under scrutiny
26 Jan 00 |  South Asia
Key witness testifies against Sharif
21 Jan 00 |  South Asia
Sharif had 'jailbreak plan'
13 Oct 99 |  South Asia
Profile: Nawaz Sharif
13 Oct 99 |  South Asia
Profile: General Pervez Musharraf
11 Nov 99 |  South Asia
Pakistan's coup: The 17-hour victory

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