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Tuesday May 21, 2024

UK charges Nawaz Sharif's guard for 'common assault' on woman in London

Farid Nemouchi pleads not guilty to charge of spitting and causing distress to Panzani Cheema

By Murtaza Ali Shah
April 17, 2024
Complainant Panzani Cheema (left) and former PMs guard Farid Nemouchi. — Reporter/File
Complainant Panzani Cheema (left) and former PM's guard Farid Nemouchi. — Reporter/File

LONDON: Former prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Nawaz Sharif’s guard has been charged for allegedly spitting on a woman last year in the British capital.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) told The News that the close protection guard Farid Nemouchi has been charged with the alleged “common assault” on a complaint made by Panzani Cheema, a Brunei national who works in London.

Pakistani media had interviewed Nawaz Sharif a moment before the incident. Cheema had appeared from nowhere and started filming and questioning as Nemouchi was pulling out to take Nawaz home from his son Hasan Nawaz’s office.

The guard appeared at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday afternoon with his lawyer Moeen Khan, a criminal law expert.

He pleaded not guilty before the judge and said he will contest the charge of spitting and causing distress to Cheema who didn’t appear in the court.

The prosecutor told the judge that the spitting act had left Panzani Cheema distressed and caused her trauma. The judge told Farid that he was on bail without any conditions attached. The trial will take place at a later date in June or July.

Cheema had knocked on the window of the car on September 16 last year. Farid Nemouchi, driving Nawaz Sharif, 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.

Nemouchi, Algerian by origin, is a highly trained martial arts expert who protected the PML-N supremo in London for nearly three years during the former premier’s last exile in London. He returned to Pakistan a few months ago to lead the party's election campaign.

Nemouchi’s lawyer Moeen Khan, of Moeen & Co Solicitors, said his client has decided not to plead guilty.

“We will try to prove that our client didn’t break any law. It must be kept in mind the circumstances of the incident of September 16 last year. Farid was protecting a high-profile figure at the time who had live threats to his life, reported to the Met Police. Farid Nemouchi is a professional boxer and bodyguard, one of the best in the field. He is innocent until proven guilty by the court as is the UK law."