NAB judge who jailed former PM Nawaz Sharif sacked over blackmail claims

A senior Pakistani judge was sacked on Friday following a scandal over blackmail claims relating to the jailing of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on corruption charges, the law ministry said. (File/AFP)
Updated 13 July 2019

NAB judge who jailed former PM Nawaz Sharif sacked over blackmail claims

  • The removal of accountability court judge Arshad Malik prompted immediate calls by Sharif's PML-N party for the release of the 69-year-old former premier, who is serving a seven-year jail sentence
  • The scandal adds to an already heated political climate in Pakistan where Prime Minister Imran Khan's government has been facing increasing economic difficulties

ISLAMABAD: A senior Pakistani judge was sacked on Friday following a scandal over blackmail claims relating to the jailing of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on corruption charges, the law ministry said.
The removal of accountability court judge Arshad Malik prompted immediate calls by Sharif's PML-N party for the release of the 69-year-old former premier, who is serving a seven-year jail sentence.
"The decision against Nawaz Sharif should be dismissed and he should be released immediately," party spokeswoman Marriyum Aurangzeb said, adding that Sharif's conviction should be considered "void".
Sharif was convicted and jailed last year after failing to prove the source of income that had led to his ownership of a steel mill in Saudi Arabia. Under Pakistani law, this is taken to prove corruption.
The PML-N has disputed the conviction and last week party leaders presented a video apparently showing Malik saying he had been pressured into ruling in favour of conviction by individuals with compromising footage against him.
Malik later issued a statement denying he had been blackmailed to convict Sharif and saying the video had been manipulated. He also declared in an affidavit he had been offered bribes followed by blackmail threats by figures close to Sharif to rule in favour of the former premier.
After days of growing pressure, Islamabad High Court asked the law ministry to remove him from his position.
"Judge Arshad Malik was asked to stop working on the basis of the alleged video and the press release," Law Minister Farogh Naseem told a news conference.
The scandal adds to an already heated political climate in Pakistan where Prime Minister Imran Khan's government, which came to power last year vowing to root out corruption, has been facing increasing economic difficulties.
Earlier this month it agreed to a $6 billion bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund, which has demanded a tough package of austerity measures.
As the problems have mounted, opposition parties have stepped up attacks, accusing the government and its allies in the powerful military establishment of crushing dissent and orchestrating Sharif's removal from power and conviction.


Sweden discontinues Assange rape investigation

Updated 24 min 9 sec ago

Sweden discontinues Assange rape investigation

  • The case was being dropped because “the evidence has weakened considerably due to the long period of time that has elapsed since the events in question.”

STOCKHOLM: Sweden on Tuesday dropped its investigation into an alleged rape by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is currently in prison in Britain.
Assange, who is battling extradition to the United States which accuses him of publishing secret documents related to his WikiLeaks work, has been facing potential charges in Sweden since 2010. The 48-year-old has denied all allegations against him.
Prosecutor Eve-Marie Persson said the case was being dropped because “the evidence has weakened considerably due to the long period of time that has elapsed since the events in question.”
She said the alleged victim, who accused Assange of raping her in 2010, “submitted a credible and reliable version of events.”
“Her statements have been coherent, extensive and detailed,” Persson said. 
The decision follows a ruling in June by a Swedish court that Assange should not be detained. Two months earlier, Assange was evicted from the Ecuador Embassy in London where he had been holed up since 2012. He was immediately arrested and is currently serving a 50-week sentence in Britain for jumping bail in 2012.
Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief, said in a tweet that the focus should now move onto the “threat” that Assange has been “warning about for years: the belligerent prosecution of the United States and the threat it poses to the First Amendment.”
Assange has been battling potential charges in Sweden since August 2010, when an investigation began after two women accused Assange of sexual offenses during a visit to Stockholm. Sweden asked Britain to extradite Assange for questioning, and in June 2012 he sought refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy to avoid arrest. That was granted two months later.
After that, the investigation stalled. Swedish prosecutors dropped cases of alleged sexual misconduct when the statute of limitations ran out in 2015, leaving only the rape allegation.
While denying the sexual misconduct allegations in Sweden, he sought asylum for protection from possible extradition to the US on charges.
Ecuador withdrew Assange’s asylum status in April 2019. Assange was arrested by British police and sentenced in May to 50 weeks in prison for jumping bail in 2012. He remains in prison after authorities ruled he was a flight risk and faces an extradition hearing next year to the US to face spying charges