Pakistan

Assault case against Nawaz Sharif's guard dropped by UK prosecution

Crown Prosecution Service drops common assault criminal case against ex-PM's guard in London

By  Murtaza Ali Shah   |  
June 13, 2024
Complainant Panzani Cheema (left) and former PM's guard Farid Nemouchi. — Reporter/File

LONDON: The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has dropped a common assault criminal case against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s former close-protection bodyguard in a dramatic development.

In April this year, the CPS had told Geo News it had decided to charge Nawaz's driver and guard Farid Nemouchi with the alleged common assault for spitting on Panzani Cheema — a respected financial sector senior executive who works in London.

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Nemouchi had appeared at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court today with his lawyer Barrister Moeen Khan, a criminal law expert, to face the trial but the prosecution told the court it will not run the case and had decided to drop the criminal charges.

A document presented in the court and seen by this reporter said the case is being dropped because “the evidence doesn’t meet the threshold of realistic prospects of success”.

Nemouchi had been charged with the alleged “common assault” on a complaint made by Panzani Cheema, whose is a Brunei-British national, who had come into contact with Farid Nemouchi on 16 September last year – weeks before Nawaz Sharif left for Pakistan permanently after ending his exile.

Speaking outside the Westminster Magistrates’ Court, Nemouchi’s lawyer Moeen, said: “The CPS has confirmed to the court ahead of the start of the trial that the common assault charge against Farid Nemouchi has been discontinued. This is the outcome we wanted to ensure there is no conviction in our client’s name. We were planning to defend our client robustly. We were in touch with the prosecution service throughout and maintained our client was not guilty of the alleged offence. We are glad that the case has been dropped.”

Khan said the whole incident should never have happened and gone to the stage where it did. “There was a lot of politicisation of the case. We are glad that our client’s ordeal is over. It was stressful for him.”

The guard had pleaded not guilty before the judge and said he would contest the charge of spitting and causing distress to Cheema. The prosecutor had told the judge that the spitting act had left Cheema distressed and caused her trauma. The judge had released him on bail without any conditions attached. The trial was set to take place this week at the City of London court.

Pakistani media had interviewed former PM Nawaz a moment before the incident on September 16. Cheema had appeared from nowhere and started filming and questioning Nawaz as Nemouchi was pulling out to take the ex-PM home, from Hasan Nawaz’s office.

Cheema had knocked on the window of the car. Nemouchi, driving Nawaz, lowered the window and said “hi” to the woman. The woman said “Hi” to Nawaz Sharif and said, "I have heard that you are a very corrupt Pakistani politician.”

Angered by the comment, the driver allegedly spat on her face, rolled up the window, and drove away. The entire incident was caught on Panzani Cheema’s phone – and within hours it went viral.

Nemouchi, Algerian by origin, is a trained martial arts expert who protected Nawaz Sharif in London for nearly three years during the former premier’s last exile in London.

If found guilty and convicted, Nemouchi could have been jailed for several months, fined, and would have lost his security license for up to three years. The conviction in such cases stays on the national police database for three years or more.

Appearing with his lawyer outside the court, Nemouchi said he was relieved that the case against him was over and the charges dropped. This reporter understands Cheema had decided not to pursue the case. The CPS didn’t share details of why it had dropped the case.

Namuchi works for Systematic Security, owned by Ahsan Dar whose brother is a PML-N provincial assembly member from Gujranwala.


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