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Monday, November 8, 1999 Published at 08:03 GMT

World: South Asia

Jemima returns to smuggling charges

Jemima and Imran Khan, pictured in 1997 with son Suleyman

Jemima Khan, the English wife of cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan, has returned to Pakistan to face charges of smuggling antique tiles.

The charges were laid in January during ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's term in power.

Mr Khan maintained his wife's innocence and said the charges were politically motivated.

"During Nawaz Sharif's government, my wife couldn't take the risk of returning to Pakistan," Mr Khan said at the Lahore Airport, where he arrived with his wife.

"I asked Jemima not to return to Pakistan because Nawaz Sharif wanted her arrested under the false charges of smuggling antiques," said Mr Khan.

Since then, she has been living in London.

'No victimisation'

Her husband, leader of the opposition Pakistan Movement for Justice, said she would not have faced a fair trial under the Sharif regime.

Wearing the traditional Pakistani dress of long shirt and baggy pants, Mrs Khan stood at her husband's side with her head covered, in keeping with Islamic tradition.

"Under the military rule, we fear no victimisation," Mr Khan said.

Army Chief General Pervaiz Musharraf dismissed Mr Sharif's elected government in a coup last month, accusing it of destroying institutions, undermining the constitution and massive corruption.

'No historical value'

Mrs Khan was charged with trying to smuggle 397 antique tiles out of Pakistan. She said the shopkeeper who sold her the tiles assured her they had no historical value.

If found guilty, Mrs Khan could be sentenced to six months in jail and fined 5,000 rupees ($92).

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