Kenya police tear gas protests over electoral commission

An opposition protester runs from tear gas fired by police at a demonstration in downtown Nairobi, Kenya on Tuesday. Kenyan police lobbed tear gas to disperse protesters in front of the electoral commission offices as controversy erupted over who should conduct the new presidential elections. (AP)
Updated 26 September 2017
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Kenya police tear gas protests over electoral commission

NAIROBI: Kenya police Tuesday dispersed protesters in front of the electoral commission offices as controversy erupted over who should conduct the new presidential elections.
Fresh presidential elections are scheduled for Oct. 27 after the Supreme Court, earlier this month, invalidated President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election win.
Police lobbed tear gas after shoving broke out between opposition supporters, who demanded the resignations and prosecutions of top officials of the electoral commission, and ruling party supporters who urged no change to the electoral body, said opposition supporter Cyrus Okemwa.
The opposition coalition’s parliamentary group charged in a statement that members of an outlawed gang had been brought to the demonstration to cause chaos and harm opposition leaders. Police security for opposition leader Raila Odinga was withdrawn ahead of the protests, said his running mate, former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, whose re-election in August was canceled by the Supreme Court, has said the electoral commission should not be changed. Opposition leader Raila Odinga charges that the electoral commissioners are complicit in electoral fraud and should be dismissed and charged with crimes.
The Supreme Court invalidated Kenyatta’s win, saying the electoral commission failed to verify results and there was evidence of irregularities and illegalities in the vote counting.
Odinga on Tuesday rejected reforms the electoral body said it would implement including allowing opposition computer technology experts to monitor the commission’s computer systems and letting the UN purchase ballot papers.
Odinga alleged the group of suppliers who conspired to rig the first elections was still intact and they must be replaced to have fair results in the rerun. Odinga charged that members of the conspiracy include one of East Africa’s most successful companies, the communications firm Safaricom, and France’s OT Morpho.


Turkish banker released from US prison

Updated 6 min 40 sec ago
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Turkish banker released from US prison

  • Mehmet Hakan Atilla, 47, deputy director general of Turkish lender Halkbank, was arrested in March 2017 and convicted the following year on five counts of bank fraud and conspiracy following a five-week trial in New York
  • Erdogan has repeatedly rejected the allegations, saying Turkey did not violate the US embargo on Iran and that political rivals were behind the case

NEW YORK: A Turkish banker convicted for plotting to help Iran evade American sanctions on Iranian oil proceeds has been released from US prison, according to his lawyer and prison officials.
Mehmet Hakan Atilla, 47, deputy director general of Turkish lender Halkbank, was arrested in March 2017 and convicted the following year on five counts of bank fraud and conspiracy following a five-week trial in New York.
He was handed over to immigration police on Friday pending his deportation to Turkey, his lawyer Victor Rocco told AFP. Prison authorities confirmed his release.
Atilla claimed that he had only played a minor role in the scheme and acted as executor of instructions by the bank’s director general — an argument accepted by the court.
Prosecutors had wanted a 20-year sentence for the banker.
His conviction hinged on the testimony of Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, who was arrested by US authorities in 2016 after jetting to Florida with his pop-star wife and child on a family holiday to Disney World.
Zarrab, 34, initially pleaded not guilty then flipped, becoming a US government witness after admitting being involved in the multi-billion-dollar gold-for-oil scheme to subvert US economic sanctions against Iran.
His testimony identified Atilla as a key organizer in the scheme, but also implicated former Turkish ministers and even President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Testifying in court last November, Zarrab said he was told that Erdogan, as prime minister in 2012, and treasury minister Ali Babacan gave “instructions” to two public banks to take part in the scheme.
Erdogan has repeatedly rejected the allegations, saying Turkey did not violate the US embargo on Iran and that political rivals were behind the case.
Zarrab’s sentence is not known, as many of the documents in his case have remained confidential.