Pakistan plane carrying 47 crashes, bursts into flames

A Pakistan International Airlines plane prepares to take-off at Alama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore in this file photo. (Reuters)
Updated 07 December 2016
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Pakistan plane carrying 47 crashes, bursts into flames

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane carrying 47 people crashed Wednesday in the mountainous north of the country and burst into flames, police and aviation authorities said.
Flight PK661 came down on a flight from the city of Chitral to Islamabad, the civil aviation authority said.
It was not immediately clear what caused the crash or whether there were survivors.
Rescuers were still struggling to reach the remote site near the town of Havelian in Abbottabad district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
But villagers had told police they were retrieving body parts from the wreckage, Ilyas Abbasi, a police official in Havelian, told AFP.
“The plane has crashed in a far-flung village in the mountains. One has to travel for more than four kilometers on foot to reach the spot,” he said.
“Villagers on site told us that the plane was first on fire and now smoke is rising from the wreckage.”
The airline said the plane was an ATR-42 turboprop aircraft, which lost contact en route from Chitral.
“A plane has crashed and locals told us that it is on fire,” Saeed Wazir, a senior local police official, said earlier.
“Police and rescue officials are on the way,” he said, but were facing difficulties reaching the site due to darkness, bad roads and difficult terrain.
Among those on board was Junaid Jamshed, a former Pakistani pop star-turned-evangelical Muslim who was embroiled in a blasphemy controversy in 2014, according to the Chitral airport manager and a local police official.
The singer’s Twitter account had said he was in Chitral.
Tributes were pouring in for the former musician on social media.
The terrain around Havelian is hilly, roughly the same altitude as the Margalla Hills which overlook Islamabad.
Pakistan’s most recent air disasters involved helicopters, both in 2015.
In May that year a Pakistani military helicopter crashed in a remote northern valley, killing eight people including the Norwegian, Philippine and Indonesian envoys and the wives of the Malaysian and Indonesian envoys.
In August 2015 another army helicopter crashed killing 12 people, all military.
The deadliest air disaster on Pakistani soil was in 2010, when an Airbus 321 operated by private airline Airblue and flying from Karachi crashed into hills outside Islamabad while about to land, killing all 152 on board.
An official report blamed the accident on a confused captain and a hostile cockpit atmosphere.
But the deadliest accident involving PIA came when an Airbus A300 crashed into a cloud-covered hillside on approach to the Nepalese capital Katmandu in 1992 after the plane descended too early, killing 167 people.


Women cleared of defamation in French sexual misconduct case

In this Sept. 21, 2014 file photo, Denis Baupin, a prominent Green Party member and former Paris city official, takes part in a climate change demonstration in Paris. (AP)
Updated 20 April 2019
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Women cleared of defamation in French sexual misconduct case

  • The court considered that the women and journalists acted in good faith, which is a defense for defamation under French law

PARIS: A Paris court has dismissed a defamation case against six women who accused a former French lawmaker of sexual misconduct and the journalists who reported the allegations.
The court on Friday ordered Denis Baupin to pay 1,000 euros ($1,120) in damages to each of the 12 people he sued.
In May 2016, investigative website Mediapart and radio station France Inter published and broadcast accounts from 14 women who alleged Baupin had groped, sexted or otherwise harassed them.
The prominent Green Party member resigned as vice president of the lower House of Parliament but denied wrongdoing and launched a defamation lawsuit against the six women who were identified in the reports, some witnesses and journalists.
The case had been under particular scrutiny in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
Women rights activists have seen it as a test of French women’s ability to speak out when they think powerful men have sexually harassed or abused them — and how journalists can report it.
The court considered that the women and journalists acted in good faith, which is a defense for defamation under French law.
In addition, it considered France Inter and Mediapart respected their additional obligations: the legitimacy of journalists’ goals in producing a story, demonstrating an absence of personal animosity, prudence and balance, and the quality of the investigation.
Most of the women who spoke about Baupin’s alleged behavior from 1998 to 2013 were fellow Green Party members, and outrage greeted their descriptions.
Four filed criminal complaints for sexual harassment at the time. A nine-month judicial investigation ended without charges. Prosecutors said the three-year statute of limitations had expired, but released a statement saying the women’s “measured, constant statements” and witness corroboration created a set of facts to support allegations of actions that “may for some of them be classified as criminal.”
The cleared women greeted the ruling with tears of joy and relief.
Lawyer Claire Moleon, a lawyer for one of them, told The Associated Press that “this is a great victory.”
“This is a very strong signal given by justice. It’s putting an end to a move that we were noticing to use defamation lawsuits to put more pressure on the victims of sexual harassment and sexual abuse,” she said.
Moleon stressed that Baupin’s order to pay damages to the people he sent on trial shows that “sanctions apply” to such cases.
During the February trial, women had described, often with lots of emotion, their alleged harassment through text messages and inappropriate comments, and in some cases, alleged sexual assault attempts.
Some former officials of France’s Green Party also testified in court, saying they should have acted earlier on reports of sexual misconduct. They stressed that the #MeToo movement has raised their awareness.
Baupin’s lawyer Emmanuel Pierrat, had argued his client did nothing illegal and had filed a defamation lawsuit to “fully clear his name.”
Baupin had decided not to attend the trial.