Ousted Pakistan PM terms Panama-gate verdict ‘contempt of public mandate’

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. (AFP)
Updated 21 March 2018
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Ousted Pakistan PM terms Panama-gate verdict ‘contempt of public mandate’

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday said that the Supreme Court verdict in the Panama Papers corruption case against him showed “contempt” for the public mandate.
Talking to reporters outside the court conducting corruption proceedings against him, he said that prominent lawyers and legal experts had described the case — and subsequent Supreme Court judgment — as weak.
“Now voices are being raised from inside and outside the Supreme Court,” he said. He was referring to remarks made by Justice Qazi Faiz Isa on Tuesday in the Supreme Court. Isa noted that although the Panama Papers case involved Sharif family’s London flats, the former premier was disqualified from office last year for holding a UAE iqama or residence permit.
Last month, Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered that Nawaz Sharif be removed as head of the political party he founded, six months after the Supreme Court had disqualified him from office.
Now the three-times former prime minister has used the judge’s remarks to back up his claim that last year's Supreme Court verdict was flawed.
“I was disqualified for not taking a salary from my son,” he said. “The judgment is not right in my and the nation’s opinion.”
Sharif said that his disqualification from office was contempt of the people of Pakistan. “Where should these people go to file a contempt case?” he asked, challenging the judges to see whether the people accept their verdicts.
“There is a need to review why such judgments are delivered,” he said. Sharif added that such decisions resulted in “aftershocks” that were “impossible” to control.
However, senior advocate Sharafat Ali told Arab News: “A politician can try to build his political case on the basis of remarks of the judges, but, in reality, this will have zero impact on legal proceedings in the court of law.”
As for the Supreme Judicial Council, he said if the former premier filed a case against a Supreme Court judge it would have “serious political repercussions for his party.”
“Filing a complaint with the Supreme Judicial Council against any judge could turn into a movement against the ruling party (Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, the party Nawaz Sharif led), so they won’t be advised to do it,” he said.
“The best recourse available to Nawaz Sharif is to fight his cases in the courts, despite all the reservations,” he said.
Professor Tahir Malik, a political analyst, said Nawaz Sharif and his family could get rid of all corruption cases against them by producing documentary evidence to prove that they bought their foreign properties with legitimate money.
“Nawaz Sharif’s rhetoric against (the) judiciary will lose (its) appeal to the public if he fails to present evidence of his innocence anytime soon,” he told Arab News.


New Zealand orders top-level inquiry into mosque massacres

Updated 25 March 2019
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New Zealand orders top-level inquiry into mosque massacres

  • "One question we need to answer is whether or not we could or should have known more," Ardern said
  • Ardern ruled out New Zealand re-introducing the death penalty for accused gunman Brenton Tarrant

WELLINGTON: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday ordered an independent judicial inquiry into whether police and intelligence services could have prevented the Christchurch mosque attacks on March 15.
Ardern said a royal commission -- the most powerful judicial probe available under New Zealand law -- was needed to find out how a single gunman was able to kill 50 people in an attack that shocked the world.
"It is important that no stone is left unturned to get to how this act of terrorism occurred and how we could have stopped it," she told reporters.
New Zealand's spy agencies have faced criticism in the wake of the attack for concentrating on the threat from Islamic extremism.
Instead, the victims were all Muslims and the massacre was allegedly carried out by a white supremacist fixated on the belief that there was an Islamist plot to "invade" Western countries.
"One question we need to answer is whether or not we could or should have known more," Ardern said.
"New Zealand is not a surveillance state ... but questions need to be answered."
Ardern ruled out New Zealand re-introducing the death penalty for accused gunman Brenton Tarrant, 28, who was arrested minutes after the attack on the mosques and has been charged with murder.
She said details of the royal commission were being finalised, but it would be comprehensive and would report in a timely manner.
It will cover the activities of intelligence services, police, customs, immigration and any other relevant government agencies in the lead-up to the attack.
The gunman livestreamed the attack online, although New Zealand has outlawed the footage as "objectionable content".
Ardern reiterated her believe it should not be aired.
"That video should not be shared. That is harmful content," she said when questioned about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan showing excerpts of the footage at campaign rallies for local elections this month.
Erdogan had angered both Wellington and Canberra with campaign rhetoric about anti-Muslim Australians and New Zealanders being sent back in "coffins" like their grandfathers at Gallipoli, a World War I battle.
New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters travelled to Istanbul to meet Erdogan and address an emergency meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
Peters said OIC members were full of praise for the support New Zealand had offered its small, tight-knit Muslim community in the wake of the killings.
"A number of them were weeping and sobbing at the demonstration (of support) by non-Muslim New Zealand towards the Muslim victims," he told reporters.
"It was dramatic and I was told by countless ministers that they've never seen anything of that type."
The body of an Indian student killed in the Christchurch mosque attacks, meanwhile, was returned Monday to her grieving family in Kochi, where relatives remembered a bright young woman dedicated to her studies.
Ansi Alibava, 25, was the first of at least five Indians shot dead on March 15 to be repatriated.
The family planned to hold a funeral ceremony for the masters student in their nearby hometown of Kodungallur.