Pakistan court orders release of ailing ex-President Zardari

Former President Asif Ali Zardari, second left, the widower of assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, was earlier arrested in a multi-million-dollar money laundering case. (AFP)
Updated 11 December 2019

Pakistan court orders release of ailing ex-President Zardari

  • Former President Asif Ali Zardari has been accused of having dozens of bogus bank accounts
  • Pakistan’s anti-graft body has arrested several politicians and businessmen on corruption charges since Imran Khan took office last year

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani court ordered on Wednesday that ailing former President Asif Ali Zardari be released on bail on medical grounds, so that he can seek medical treatment at a hospital of his choice in the country.
The development came about five months after Zardari, the widower of the country’s assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, was arrested by Pakistan’s anti-graft body in a multi-million-dollar money laundering case.
Shortly after the court order, Zardari’s son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who heads the key opposition Pakistan People’s Party, claimed that the days of the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan were numbered. He told reporters that once he recovers, his father will launch a campaign to oust Khan’s government.
Former President Zardari, a lawmaker in the lower house of Parliament, has been accused of having dozens of bogus bank accounts, a charge he denies, saying he was being politically victimized by Khan’s government. Since coming to power, Khan has pledged that his government would make good on his election campaign promise to fight corruption on all fronts.
Zardari, who was arrested in June, was expected to be freed later on Wednesday.
Pakistan’s anti-graft body has arrested several politicians and businessmen on corruption charges since Khan took office last year after winning a narrow majority in parliamentary elections.
Khan’s predecessor, Nawaz Sharif, was removed from office by the country’s Supreme Court over corruption allegations in 2017. Sharif is currently undergoing medical tests in London after being released on bail on medical grounds.
Sharif and Zardari are longtime political rivals but their parties have vowed to launch protests against Khan’s government over increasing inflation and a spike in prices of essential foods.
Zardari became president in 2008, after Pakistan’s former military dictator Pervez Musharraf was forced to resign. Zardari’s wife Benazir Bhutto served twice as a prime minister before being killed by the Taliban in 2007. Zardari served as Pakistan’s president until 2013.


HK media tycoon Jimmy Lai arrested under national security law

Updated 10 August 2020

HK media tycoon Jimmy Lai arrested under national security law

  • Lai has been one of the most prominent democracy activists in the Chinese-ruled city and an ardent critic of Beijing

HONG KONG: Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai has been arrested over suspected collusion with foreign forces under the new national security law, his top aide said on Twitter, in what is the highest-profile arrest yet under the legislation.
Lai has been one of the most prominent democracy activists in the Chinese-ruled city and an ardent critic of Beijing, which imposed the sweeping new law on Hong Kong on June 30, drawing condemnation from Western countries.
The new security law punishes anything China considers subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison.
Critics say it crushes freedoms in the semiautonomous city, while supporters say it will bring stability after prolonged pro-democracy protests last year.
“Jimmy Lai is being arrested for collusion with foreign powers at this time,” Mark Simon, a senior executive at Lai’s media company Next Digital, which publishes local tabloid Apple Daily, said early on Monday.
Police did not immediately comment.
Lai was also arrested this year on illegal assembly charges, along with other leading activists, relating to protests last year.
In an interview with Reuters in May, Lai pledged to stay in Hong Kong and continue to fight for democracy even though he expected to be one of the targets of the new legislation.