British lawyer for jailed Bangladeshi ex-PM ‘outraged’ by India entry denial

Bangladesh opposition leader and two-term Prime Minister Zia was jailed in February for corruption, but her party says the case is politically motivated by the ruling party in an election year. (AFP)
Updated 12 July 2018
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British lawyer for jailed Bangladeshi ex-PM ‘outraged’ by India entry denial

  • Bangladesh opposition leader and two-term Prime Minister Zia was jailed in February for corruption
  • New Delhi militarily helped the then East Pakistan liberate itself from Pakistan in 1971

NEW DELHI: A British parliamentarian and lawyer, who is a counsel for jailed Bangladeshi politician Khaleda Zia, said on Thursday he was outraged by India's decision to deny him entry to address a press conference defending his client and meet a human rights body.
India's foreign ministry said it sent back Alex Carlile, a member of the House of Lords, from New Delhi airport on Wednesday because his "intended activity in India was incompatible with the purpose of his visit as mentioned in his visa application".
"This is no way to treat a 70-year-old senior lawyer and Parliamentarian," Carlile said in a statement. "I am outraged by the political interference in Begum Khaleda Zia's case on political grounds by two governments, and I expect a full explanation from the Indian Government. I have the visa they granted me a few days ago."
Bangladesh opposition leader and two-term Prime Minister Zia was jailed in February for corruption, but her party says the case is politically motivated by the ruling party in an election year. The Bangladeshi government has consistently denied the charges.
In his prepared statement for the planned New Delhi briefing on Thursday, released to reporters by email, Carlile said Bangladesh had delayed granting him a visa and that he was grateful to the Indian media for the chance to "lay bare the unfair and unjust approach of the Bangladesh authorities to the case of my client".
A Bangladesh foreign ministry spokesman declined to comment.
India's foreign ministry spokesman, Raveesh Kumar, told a weekly media briefing in New Delhi that it was not acceptable for Carlile to use Indian soil to hold such a press conference when he could have done the same from London.
Kumar declined to answer what category visa Carlile should have held other than his "business" visa, but said he suspected there was an attempt to "create some kind of a problem" in the relationship between India and Bangladesh.
India and Bangladesh enjoy close ties. New Delhi militarily helped the then East Pakistan liberate itself from Pakistan in 1971.
Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) said it was disappointed that India sent Carlile back.
"He has not been allowed to enter Bangladesh so wanted to raise the issues about her cases from our good neighbour India," BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told Reuters. "Our leader is in jail for several months and it's injustice done to her. He wanted to reveal the truth, but could not." (Additional reporting by Serajul Quadir in DHAKA; Editing by Toby Chopra)


Thai boys rescued from cave mourn diver who died

Updated 15 July 2018
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Thai boys rescued from cave mourn diver who died

  • The health ministry said the overall condition for the players and coach was normal
  • Saman was widely hailed as a hero but the boys, aged 11 to 16, were only told about his death on Saturday

CHIANG RAI, Thailand: The 12 boys and their coach rescued from a Thai cave mourned the death of an ex-Navy SEAL who died while taking part in the mission, the health ministry said Sunday.
The “Wild Boars” football team are recovering in hospital following 18 days spent inside the Tham Luang cave after entering on June 23 and getting trapped by monsoon floodwaters.
Doctors say they are in good health following a successful three-day operation which ended July 10 when teams of Thai Navy SEALs and international cave diving experts hauled the last five members of the team to safety.
But the lead-up to the final phase of the mission was met with tragedy when volunteer and former Navy SEAL diver Saman Kunan died on July 6 while installing oxygen tanks along the twisting passageways of the cave.
Saman was widely hailed as a hero but the boys, aged 11 to 16, were only told about his death on Saturday after a medical team said they were strong enough mentally to handle the news, though many wept after hearing it.
“All cried and expressed their condolences by writing messages on a drawing of Lt. Commander Saman and observed one minute of silence for him,” Jedsada Chokdamrongsuk, permanent secretary at the health ministry, said in the statement.
Photos released show the youngsters crowded around a sketch of Saman scrawling messages on it and bowing their heads in commemoration.
“They also thanked him and promised to be good boys,” the statement said.
Tributes from Thailand and around the world have poured in for Saman, a triathlete and diver who retired from the military in 2006 and worked at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport before volunteering to help with the rescue in northern Thailand.
Specialists who took part in the risky mission to bring the Wild Boars home have expressed shock and surprise that they were able to pull it off, with some fearing that there could have been more casualties.
The unprecedented and daring final push to bring the boys out saw them sedated and carried through waterlogged and partially dry corridors with the help of military stretchers and nearly 100 divers.
Health officials have conveyed a largely positive picture of the boys’ recovery. All are expected to leave hospital on Thursday.
The health ministry said the overall condition for the players and coach was normal, though many are still on a course of antibiotics.
Despite the positive assessments so far experts have said they would all need to be monitored closely for signs of psychological distress that could take months to manifest.
They spent nine days in the dark, dank cave before being located by two British divers.
The boys — and their parents — have been advised to spend time with friends and family and not to give media interviews as that could trigger post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.
But the interest in their story is unlikely to evaporate overnight, as Hollywood producers are already jockeying to make a film version of the saga.