Court opens new ‘Karachi’ probe against Sarkozy

Updated 11 January 2013
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Court opens new ‘Karachi’ probe against Sarkozy

PARIS: French judges yesterday authorized a fresh probe against ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy as part of the so-called “Karachi affair,” a judicial source told AFP, in the latest legal headache faced by the former leader.
Three judges decided to proceed with a probe to see whether Sarkozy violated a confidentiality law when the Elysee presidential palace published a press release on the affair in September 2011.
The press release said that Sarkozy’s name did not figure in any of the files on the so-called Karachi affair, which stems from a 2002 bombing in the Pakistani city that killed 11 French engineers.
The engineers’ families sued Sarkozy over the press release, charging that it violated laws that prohibit publication of information about ongoing investigations.
Although prosecution argued that Sarkozy cannot be investigated because he had presidential immunity at the time, the judges disagreed.
“The act of permitting the release of information concerning ongoing investigations does not enter into the functions of the president,” the three investigating judges said in their ruling.
The Karachi bombing has spawned several other investigations implicating Sarkozy, who was defeated in his re-election bid last year by Socialist Francois Hollande.
In one, two close aides to Sarkozy have been charged by judges investigating alleged kickbacks on a Pakistani arms deal concluded when Sarkozy was budget minister.
He allegedly authorized the creation of a shell company used to channel kickbacks to then Prime Minister Edouard Balladur’s unsuccessful 1995 presidential bid.
In more serious but harder to prove allegations, magistrates are also probing whether the Karachi bombing was revenge for the cancellation of bribes secretly promised to Pakistani officials.


Thai court grants bail to detained pro-democracy activists

Police have charged each activist with several offenses, including violating a ban on political assembly and obstructing officials. (AP)
Updated 14 min 29 sec ago
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Thai court grants bail to detained pro-democracy activists

  • The activists were arrested Tuesday at a protest marking the anniversary of a 2014 military coup and calling for elections this year

BANGKOK: A court in Thailand granted bail Thursday to 15 pro-democracy activists who were arrested earlier this week during a protest against military rule at which several thousand police were deployed.
Krisadang Nutjaras, a lawyer for the student activists, told reporters they applied for bail after the court agreed to a police request for a further 12 days’ detention. It was set at 100,000 baht ($3,100) for each person, he said.
Police have charged each activist with several offenses, including violating a ban on political assembly and obstructing officials. They are required to report back to authorities in eight days and their bail is conditional on not participating in illegal political demonstrations.
The activists, who were arrested Tuesday at a protest marking the anniversary of a 2014 military coup and calling for elections this year, were applauded by supporters as they walked out of the Bangkok Criminal Court complex.
“Only barbaric countries say elections are illegal,” a 25-year-old protest leader, Rangsiman Rome, said outside the court. “Thank you everyone for coming. Today will not be the last day for our fight.”
Documents that police submitted to the court argued that bail should be denied because of the seriousness of the offenses. They also said they needed more time to complete their investigation.
Krisadang accused police of filing “excessive charges” against the protesters. He also criticized the court for refusing to hear counterarguments when it considered the request for detention to be extended.
“We never got a chance to present our reasoning to show the court that the kids are people who love democracy,” he said. “If in our country people use their rights to ask for democracy and get arrested and deemed traitors that cause havoc, there is not much hope left.”
Tuesday’s protest drew about 200 demonstrators but was met with an overwhelming security response. More than 3,000 officers were deployed to prevent the activists from marching from a Bangkok university campus to Government House.
The protesters, mainly middle-aged and elderly people led by a core of student activists, have been holding regular rallies for the last few months, calling for the junta to resign. Political gatherings of five or more people are banned by the military government.