Pak court extends ex-President Musharraf’s remand by 14 days

Updated 05 May 2013
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Pak court extends ex-President Musharraf’s remand by 14 days

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani anti-terrorism court yesterday ordered former military ruler Pervez Musharraf to remain in custody for a further two weeks ahead of his trial for unlawfully sacking judges during his rule, officials said.
“Pervez Musharraf’s remand is extended for judicial lock-up for 14 days, he should be presented before the court on May 18,” Judge Kausar Abbas Zaidi, ordered.
Police had asked the judge to grant the custodial extension saying the investigation into Musharraf’s activities was still under way.
Lawyers for Musharraf, who is locked in his own home, which has been declared a sub-jail while he is awaiting trial, filed a bail application in the court and the judge fixed a hearing for May 6.
The court was also asked if Musharraf’s trial could be held inside his plush villa, citing security reasons, but the matter was left pending.
“It has been brought into my notice that the Chief Commissioner of Islamabad issued a notification for the jail trial, but approval from Islamabad high court is needed in this regard,” the judge said.
Musharraf was placed in police custody at his home following his arrest on April 19, in an unprecedented move against a former army chief of staff ahead of key elections.
He was arrested for making a decision to sack judges when he imposed emergency rule in November 2007 — a move that hastened his downfall.
He also faces charges of conspiracy to murder opposition leader Benazir Bhutto in 2007 and over the death of a rebel leader during a 2006 military operation.
However, his party on Friday announced it will boycott next week’s historic election after a court on Tuesday banned him from standing for the rest of his life.
Officials visit prisoner in India
Pakistani embassy officials visited a hospital in north India yesterday where a Pakistani prisoner was in critical condition in the intensive care unit after being attacked by an Indian inmate.
Convicted murderer Sanaullah Ranjay suffered multiple head injuries in a prison in India’s northern city of Jammu in an apparent tit-for-tat attack after an Indian prisoner, Sarabjit Singh, was fatally assaulted in Pakistan.
On Friday, Ranjay was airlifted to a government hospital in the city of Chandigarh, 250 km north of New Delhi.
A spokeswoman for the government hospital said Ranjay was in the intensive care unit and on a ventilator as his condition “continues to remain critical.” The Pakistani High Commission (embassy) officials “came to the hospital and we have given them Ranjay’s medical update,” added Manju Wadwalkar, the spokeswoman of the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research Hospital.
Ranjay, who hails from the city of Sialkot in Pakistan, was attacked by a prisoner who was identified as a former Indian army soldier nearly 24 hours after Singh’s death in Lahore.
India’s foreign ministry said Pakistan High Commission officials had been given daily access to Ranjay.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry said earlier in the week in a statement that the “obvious retaliation to the death of Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh is condemnable.”


Maldives strongman Yameen seeks second term amid rigging fears

Updated 24 September 2018
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Maldives strongman Yameen seeks second term amid rigging fears

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka: Polling booths in the Maldives closed Sunday after voting hours were extended in a controversial election marred by police raids on the opposition and allegations of rigging in favor of strongman President Abdulla Yameen.

Yameen, who is expected to retain power, has imprisoned or forced into exile almost all of his main rivals. Critics say he is returning the honeymoon island nation to authoritarian rule.

The process is being closely watched by regional rivals India and China, who are jostling to influence Indian Ocean nations. The European Union and US, meanwhile, have threatened sanctions if the vote is not free and fair.

Many voters across the Indian Ocean archipelago said they stood in line for over five hours to cast their ballot, while expatriate Maldivians voted in neighboring Sri Lanka and India.

The elections commission said balloting was extended by three hours until 7 p.m. (1400 GMT) because of technical glitches suffered by tablet computers containing electoral rolls, and officials had to use manual systems to verify voters’ identities.

An election official said the deadline was also extended due to heavy voter turnout, and anyone in the queue by 7 p.m. would be able to cast their ballot.

“Eight hours & counting. Waiting to exercise my democratic right! Let’s do this, Insha Allah!” former Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon said on Twitter.

Maumoon, who is also the estranged niece of Yameen and daughter of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, cast her vote at a booth in the Maldivian Embassy in Colombo.

Yameen voted minutes after polling booths opened in the capital Male, where opposition campaign efforts had been frustrated by a media crackdown and police harassment.

Before polls opened, police raided the campaign headquarters of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and searched the building for several hours in a bid to stop what they called “illegal activities.” There were no arrests.

Yameen’s challenger, the relatively unknown Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, also cast his vote.

Solih has the backing of a united opposition trying to oust Yameen although he has struggled for visibility with the electorate because the media is fearful of falling foul of heavy-handed decrees and reporting restrictions.

Mohamed Nasheed, who was elected president of a newly democratic Maldives in 2008 but who now lives in exile, urged the international community to reject the results of a flawed election.

Some 262,000 people in the archipelago — famed for its white beaches and blue lagoons — were eligible to vote in an election from which independent international monitors have been barred.

Only a handful of foreign media have been allowed in.

The Asian Network for Free Elections, a foreign monitoring group that was denied access to the Maldives, said the campaign was heavily tilted in favor of 59-year-old Yameen.

Local observers said the balloting itself went off peacefully and most of the delays were due to technical issues. Results are expected by early Monday.

The government has used “vaguely worded laws to silence dissent and to intimidate and imprison critics,” some of whom have been assaulted and even murdered, according to Human Rights Watch.

There have been warnings that Yameen could try to hold on to power at all costs.

In February he declared a state of emergency, suspended the constitution and ordered troops to storm the Supreme Court and arrest judges and other rivals to stave off impeachment.

Yameen told supporters on the eve of the election he had overcome “huge obstacles” since controversially winning power in a contested run-off in 2013, but had handled the challenges “with resilience.” 

The crackdown attracted international censure and fears the Maldives was slipping back into one-man rule just a decade after transitioning to democracy.

The US State Department this month said it would “consider appropriate measures” should the election fail to be free and fair.

The EU in July also threatened travel bans and asset freezes if the situation does not improve.

India, long influential in Maldives affairs — it sent troops and warships in 1988 to stop a coup attempt — also expressed hopes the election would represent a return to democratic norms.

However in recent years Yameen has drifted closer to China, India’s chief regional rival, taking hundreds of millions of dollars for major infrastructure projects.