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Monday, 29 November, 1999, 14:35 GMT
Curbs on Sharif trial
Armoured car There has been heavy security for Mr Sharif's trial

The judge in the trial of the ousted Pakistani prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, has banned political statements from the prosecution and defence during the case.

Pakistan in crisis
The order - agreed after talks involving both defence and prosecution lawyers - says that no political statements can be made inside or outside the court.

No political statement shall be issued by either of the parties while in the court premises and outside the court premises
Court order
The order banning such statements also said that both sets of lawyers had agreed not to issue statements concerning each other's character or conduct, or to comment on the fairness of the trial.

Formal charges against Mr Sharif, his brother Shahbaz and five other officials of the previous administration are expected to be filed at Karachi's anti-terrorism court on Saturday.

Mr Sharif is facing charges over his alleged refusal last month to allow a civilian airliner with the army leader, General Pervez Musharraf, on board to land at Karachi despite being low on fuel, on the day the military seized power in October.

Mr Sharif has already denied the allegation, but correspondents say the court order will prevent Mr Sharif making any more statements protesting his innocence.

Co-defendant pardon

There is some doubt hanging over the trial because of developments since the last hearing in the case.

Nawaz Sharif arrives at court Nawaz Sharif: Denies any wrongdoing
One of the accused, the director general of the Civil Aviation Authority, Aminullah Chaudhry, has agreed to testify that he had orders to close down Karachi airport on the direct instructions of Mr Sharif.

Mr Chaudhry was pardoned last Wednesday after agreeing to give evidence against Mr Sharif. He was not brought before the court.

The trial judge now has to decide on the status of Mr Chaudhry in the case, and whether he can be presented as a prosecution witness.

On Monday, the court allowed Mr Sharif and one of his co-accused, former aide Ghaus Ali Shah, better facilities in prison, including a television, newspapers and a better cell.

Mr Sharif's family and supporters had complained about the conditions under which he was held since his seizure by the army last month.

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See also:
24 Nov 99 |  South Asia
Trial blow for Sharif
22 Nov 99 |  South Asia
Military takeover challenged in court
11 Nov 99 |  South Asia
Pakistan's coup: The 17-hour victory
10 Nov 99 |  South Asia
Sharif charged with murder plot
20 Nov 99 |  South Asia
Bomb rocks Lahore
23 Nov 99 |  South Asia
UK may help Pakistan Bhutto probe

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