Top Pakistani court dismisses graft case against Imran Khan

Imran Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) political party, gestures as he addresses members of the media, after Pakistan's Supreme Court dismissed a petition to disqualify him from parliament for not declaring assets, outside Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, Pakistan December 15, 2017. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro
Updated 16 December 2017
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Top Pakistani court dismisses graft case against Imran Khan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Supreme Court dismissed a graft case against cricketer-turned-opposition leader Imran Khan Friday, ensuring he will contest a general election due next year, just months after the same body ousted ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Khan had faced being disqualified from holding political office over charges including unreported assets, namely the funds he used to buy a scenic, sprawling property in the Bani Gala hills on the outskirts of the capital Islamabad.
He has dismissed the claims as a political vendetta, saying he used money earned from his career as one of Pakistan’s most famous World Cup cricketers to buy the land and that he has the documentation to prove it.
“No omission or dishonesty can be attributed to him. This petition has no merits and is dismissed accordingly,” Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar said, reading from the judgment to a packed courtroom.
Shortly after the judgment Khan held a press conference in Karachi where he told reporters “Pakistan’s highest court has exonerated me.”
“The taxpayers and those who earn their money through fair means and pay taxes should not be compared with the robbers and thieves,” Khan added.
Pakistan has been roiled by military coups and instability for much of its 70-year history, and the general election due in 2018 will only be its second ever democratic transition.
Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, which already holds northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, hopes to capitalize on Sharif’s ousting and the disarray of his ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to gain seats. Few observers of Pakistan’s volatile politics are willing to predict with any certainty who will take the election, however.
Sharif swiftly installed party loyalist Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as prime minister after the court sacked him in late July following a corruption investigation spurred by the Panama Papers leak.
But Abbasi is widely seen as a placeholder as Sharif himself has refused to relinquish leadership of the party, despite being barred from contesting elections, leaving the PML-N floundering.
Its weakness was brutally exposed last month when it was forced to capitulate to the demands of small and previously unknown militant group that had held a weeks-long sit-in in the capital to demand the resignation of the federal law minister over claims linked to blasphemy.


Lion Air crash victims’ families to rally as hunt for wreckage steps up

Updated 13 December 2018
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Lion Air crash victims’ families to rally as hunt for wreckage steps up

  • Lion Air is paying for a specialized ship to help lift the main wreckage of flight JT 610 and give investigators a better chance of finding the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) in a search that has lacked sophisticated equipment for the last month
  • The enhanced search will cost $2.8 million for the first 10 days

JAKARTA: Families of some of the 189 people killed in a Lion Air plane crash plan a protest rally in Indonesia on Thursday, while stalled efforts to bring the main wreckage to the surface and find the second black box are set to resume next week.
The Boeing Co. 737 MAX jet crashed into the Java Sea on Oct. 29 shortly after take-off from Jakarta, but the families expressed concern that the remains of 64 passengers have yet to be identified, with just 30 percent of the plane’s body found.
“The relatives hope that all members of our families who died in the accident can be found and their bodies buried in a proper way,” a group that says it represents about 50 families said in a statement.
“We hope the search for the victims will use vessels with sophisticated technology,” it added, ahead of the rally planned for outside the presidential palace in Jakarta.
Lion Air is paying for a specialized ship to help lift the main wreckage of flight JT 610 and give investigators a better chance of finding the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) in a search that has lacked sophisticated equipment for the last month, Reuters reported.
Indonesia’s national transport panel said the vessel was due to arrive on Monday.
The enhanced search will cost $2.8 million for the first 10 days, a source close to the airline said on Thursday, on condition of anonymity, adding that Lion Air is paying because the government does not have the budget.
A spokesman for Lion Air was unable to respond immediately to a request for comment.
“Funds for the CVR search will be borne by Lion Air which has signed a contract for a ship from a Singaporean company,” a finance ministry spokesman told Reuters.
Lion Air’s decision to foot the bill is a rare test of global norms regarding search independence, as such costs are typically paid by governments.
In this case, investigators said they had faced bureaucratic wrangling and funding problems before Lion Air stepped in.
Safety experts say it is unusual for one of the parties to help fund an investigation, required by UN rules to be independent, so as to ensure trust in any safety recommendations made.
There are also broader concerns about resources available for such investigations worldwide, coupled with the risk of agencies being ensnared in legal disputes.
The clock is ticking in the hunt for acoustic pings coming from the L3 Technologies Inc. cockpit voice recorder fitted to the jet. It has a 90-day beacon, the manufacturer’s online brochure shows.
The flight data recorder was retrieved three days after the crash, providing insight into aircraft systems and crew inputs, although the cause has yet to be determined.