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Nawaz Sharif sentenced to 11 years, Maryam 8 in Avenfield reference

ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was sentenced to a total of 11 years in prison and slapped a £8 million fine (Rs1.3 billion) in the Avenfield properties reference on Friday while his daughter Maryam was sentenced to eight years with a £2 million fine (Rs335 million).

 


The sentences will run concurrently, which means Nawaz will serve 10 years in prison, while Maryam seven. Additionally, Nawaz’s son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar has been given a one year sentence without any fine.

Accountability Court-I Judge Mohammad Bashir announced the verdict today after several delays since morning.

 

Moreover, Nawaz’s sons Hassan and Hussain who have been absconding in the case were declared as “proclaimed offenders” and the court ordered non-bailable perpetual warrants of arrest agains them.

The court has also ruled that the Avenfield apartments of the Sharif family, in their possession since 1993, shall be seized by the federal government.

“Avenfield Apartments Nos 16, 16-a, 17 and 17-a stand forfeited to Federal Government within the meaning of 10(a) of NAO, 1999,” according to written verdict.

The Avenfield properties reference was one of three filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) last year in light of the Supreme Court’s verdict against Nawaz in the Panama Papers case. The reference pertains to the ownership of the Sharif family’s apartments at Avenfield House, London.

Moreover, after the hearing, NAB Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi said the accused have 10 days to file an appeal against the verdict.

In the written order of the court, the Supreme Court’s Panama Papers case verdict and work of the joint investigation team has been referred to, along with an interview of Nawaz’s son Hussain wherein he accepted ownership of the London properties.

Maryam, Safdar barred from elections

Following the verdict, Maryam and Safdar stand barred from contesting the July general election from Lahore and Mansehra, respectively.

Following the verdict, the Election Commission of Pakistan stated that Maryam’s name will be removed from the ballot papers of the NA-127 constituency after which new ballot papers will be printed.

All eyes on accountability court

All eyes were set on the accountability court hearing the high-profile corruption cases against the former prime minister and his family. Strict security arrangements, including paramilitary personnel, were in place at the Federal Judicial Complex, where the court is located. The roads leading to the complex were also closed to traffic.

Moreover, the district administration had imposed Section 144 in the capital to discourage mass gatherings.

As the hearing went under way today, Judge Bashir heard Sharifs’ request, submitted on Thursday, requesting the trial court to postpone the verdict till he is back in the country next week.

After submitting Begum Kulsoom Nawaz’s medical report, Maryam’s counsel Amjad Pervez argued that the law stipulates the presence of the accused when the verdict is read out. After the prosecution opposed any delay at such a late stage of the trial, the judge reserved his verdict and adjourned the hearing for an hour.

Later, the court dismissed Sharifs’ plea and set 12:30pm as the time for announcing the verdict. However, that deadline was later extended thrice — 2:30pm, 3pm and 3:30pm — before it was finally read out after 4pm.

The judge had called lawyers of both sides inside his chambers and disallowed the media. He then stated that the media will be called in when the judgment is being read out.

Earlier, the judge, present inside his chamber, had issued the delay notices through the court staff but the 3:30 pm deadline was informed of by the judge himself. He explained that they have to make an appropriate number of photocopies of the judgment for distribution to the relevant parties.

Nawaz will return

After the verdict, Maryam Nawaz tweeted that her father Nawaz Sharif would be returning and attempts were being made to stop him.

“Today was the last attempt and God willing it will be unsuccessful like before.”

Maryam in her tweets stressed that the resolve to fight against injustice had increased following the verdict. “You [Nawaz] chose Pakistan over your personal life. The nation is with you and victory will be yours,” Maryam tweeted.

Safdar vows to stand firm

Speaking to voters prior to the verdict, Safdar said he does not fear any verdict against him, adding that he will be exonerated in the court of public opinion.

On Tuesday, the court had reserved its verdict and ordered all accused to ensure their presence in court when the verdict is read out today.

Apart from Nawaz, Maryam and Safdar, Nawaz’s sons are also accused in the case. They were declared proclaimed offenders last year owing to their no-show and will face a separate trial whenever they join the proceedings.

The accused have been charged as per the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999, according to which they face maximum jail terms of 14 years and/or a fine, each.

Politicians react to Avenfield verdict against Nawaz, family

Nawaz going to Jail

Accountability Court-I sentenced former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to a total of 11 years in prison and slapped a £8 million fine in the Avenfield properties reference on Friday while his daughter Maryam was sentenced to eight years with a £2 million fine.



Here’s how different politicians reacted to the verdict against Sharif family:

Political bigwig sentenced for first time

Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rasheed remarked that a political bigwig has been sentenced for the first time in Pakistan’s history.

“There is no doubt that Maryam Nawaz forged signature in the Panama Papers case. The documents were forged,” he claimed.

Rasheed remarked that Nawaz Sharif wants the people to come out on the roads. “They expect those people to come out to whom they didn’t even provide basic facilities,” he said.

However, he added that all the guilty persons haven’t been punished, adding “the story of Model Town cruelty is still left.”

Nawaz being jailed for laundering money

Moreover, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf member Jahangir Tareen shared on social media that Nawaz Sharif had fabricated a narrative that he was ousted for holding iqama (work permit), adding that the former premier has been sentenced for being a ‘thief and money launderer’.

He wrote: “NS’s fabricated narrative that he got ousted only for holding an Iqama, has been torn to shreds after NAB Court’s historic verdict. ‘Mujhe Kyun Nikala Sharif’ finally gets the answer that he has been jailed for being a Chor & a Money Launderer. Great victory for Pakistan.”

PML-N rejects Avenfield verdict

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz President Shehbaz Sharif remarked on social media that the party rejects the verdict of the accountability court, adding that the history will remember verdict in black words.

“The decision is flawed, politically motivated and has glaring loopholes,” he stated, adding that PML-N- will utilise all legal and constitutional remedies against the decision.

While referring to upcoming general elections, he said that the court of people will give its verdict on July 25.

Verdict will benefit Nawaz

Moreover, former opposition leader in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah rejected the verdict, adding that the timing of the verdict is wrong.

“Announcing the verdict so close to the elections can have multiple meanings,” he said. According to the Pakistan Peoples Party leader the verdict should have been announced three months before.

“Nawaz will benefit from this verdict,” he said.

Polls shouldn’t be delayed due to verdict

On the other hand, Jamaat-e-Islami chief Sirajul Haq expressed concern regarding that delay in polls due to the verdict.

“The verdict against Nawaz should not influence the forthcoming elections,” he said, stressing that the polls should not be rescheduled following the verdict.

While speaking to media, he reiterated his demand to hold all the 436 people listed in the Panama Papers accountable. “Nation wants across the board accountability,” he added.

You cannot steal from people of Pakistan

PTI leader Dr Arif Alvi said that the verdict has served as a warning to all those who “looted and plundered” to not engage in corrupt practices.

“The decision is flawed, politically motivated and has glaring loopholes,” he stated, adding that PML-N- will utilise all legal and constitutional remedies against the decision.

While referring to upcoming general elections, he said that the court of people will give its verdict on July 25.

Verdict will benefit Nawaz

Moreover, former opposition leader in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah rejected the verdict, adding that the timing of the verdict is wrong.

“Announcing the verdict so close to the elections can have multiple meanings,” he said. According to the Pakistan Peoples Party leader the verdict should have been announced three months before.

“Nawaz will benefit from this verdict,” he said.

Polls shouldn’t be delayed due to verdict

On the other hand, Jamaat-e-Islami chief Sirajul Haq expressed concern regarding that delay in polls due to the verdict.

“The verdict against Nawaz should not influence the forthcoming elections,” he said, stressing that the polls should not be rescheduled following the verdict.

While speaking to media, he reiterated his demand to hold all the 436 people listed in the Panama Papers accountable. “Nation wants across the board accountability,” he added.

You cannot steal from people of Pakistan

PTI leader Dr Arif Alvi said that the verdict has served as a warning to all those who “looted and plundered” to not engage in corrupt practices.

“There are some days left till Imran Khan becomes the PM,” he said adding that thieves should worry about their fates once Imran becomes the premier.

Source from: geo.tv

Turkey’s victorious Erdogan set to assume sweeping powers

Turkey’s victorious Erdogan set to assume sweeping powers

ANKARA, Turkey — Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics for the past 15 years, prepared Monday to extend his rule and take on sweeping new powers after his victory in the country’s landmark presidential and parliamentary elections.

Turkey’s High Electoral Board declared Erdogan, 64, the winner of Sunday’s votes, which usher in a new executive presidential system in which the prime minister’s post is eliminated and executive powers are transferred to the president, who rules with only limited checks and balances.

The Turkish leader is accused by critics of adopting increasingly authoritarian tactics but is loved by supporters for bringing prosperity and stability. Erdogan may be facing rough times ahead, however, because analysts predict an economic downturn for Turkey amid rising inflation and a struggling currency.

His win could also deepen Turkey’s rift with its Western and NATO allies, who are already concerned by the country’s setbacks in democracy and human rights as well as Turkey’s closer ties with Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin sent Erdogan a telegram on Monday, congratulating him on his victory, one of the first world leaders to do so.




Turkey’s currency, the lira, rallied Monday over Erdogan’s victory, which reduces instability in the short term.

In his victory speech, Erdogan said he would work toward achieving his goal of making Turkey one of the world’s top 10 economies by 2023, when the Turkish Republic marks its centenary.

He also pledged a more “determined” fight against outlawed Kurdish rebels and alleged members of a movement led by U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom he accuses of orchestrating a 2016 failed coup against his government. Gulen denies involvement.

Some 50,000 people have been arrested and more than 110,000 civil servants have been fired in a massive government crackdown that has taken place under a state of emergency imposed after the coup that is still in place.

“Turkey made its choice in favor of a more determined fight against the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) and (Gulenists),” Erdogan said. “We will go after terror organizations with stronger determination.”

Under the new system, Erdogan himself will appoint ministers, vice presidents and high-level bureaucrats, issue decrees, prepare the budget and decide on security policies.

According to unofficial results that have yet to be confirmed by the electoral board, Erdogan garnered 52.5 percent of the presidential vote, while his ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, won 42.5 percent of the parliamentary vote. Erdogan’s closest contender, Muharrem Ince of the secular opposition Republican People’s Party, won 30.7 percent support.

Erdogan’s AKP fell short of winning a parliamentary majority but a better-than-expected performance by its nationalist ally should allow the party to control the 600-seat legislature.

Ince, who complained that it was an unfair election, accepted Erdogan’s victory during a news conference Monday.

“There are no significant differences between our records and the Supreme Election Council’s records,” Ince told reporters. “I accept the results of the elections.”

The former physics teacher, who led a robust campaign against Erdogan, called on him to end his divisive policies.

“Be the president of 81 million (Turks), embrace everyone,” he said. “That’s what I would have done if I had won.”

Still, the 54-year-old politician criticized Turkey’s new system, saying: “Turkey has cut off its ties with democratic values… (Turkey) has transitioned to a one-man regime in the fullest sense.”

Before the start of the news conference, Ince asked a crew from Turkey’s state television TRT to leave the hall, criticizing the publicly-funded organization for ignoring the opposition’s campaign rallies and not allowing other candidates equal airtime to Erdogan during the race. The TRT journalists left.

The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, whose presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtas was forced to campaign from jail, received the more than 10 percent of the vote Sunday, enough to win seats in parliament. In reaction, thousands of its supporters spilled into the streets in celebration.

In a series of Twitter postings, Demirtas praised the party’s success in winning a projected 67 seats out of 600, according to unofficial results.

“The fact that I was forced to campaign in detention conditions was the greatest injustice,” Demirtas said. “While other candidates could stage 100 campaign rallies, I was able to send out 100 tweets.”

Source from : heraldtribune.com

Turks set to vote in crucial presidential and parliamentary polls

Istanbul, Turkey – Turkey’s presidential candidates have held their final rallies in advance of Sunday’s crucial double elections, which will see voters pick both an executive president with increased powers and the new members of the country’s parliament.

Turkey election

The snap polls will open at 8am (05:00 GMT) across Turkey and close at 5pm (14:00 GMT), in contrast to previous elections in which eastern provinces started voting one hour earlier.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday addressed several different rallies in Istanbul, urging people to get out and vote.

“The presidency requires experience,” said Erdogan, in power since 2003, as he attacked the opposition for lacking vision.

His main challenger, Muharrem Ince, also addressed supporters in Turkey’s largest city on the last day of campaigning.

“Tomorrow, we will have a completely different Turkey. Tomorrow, discrimination will come to an end,” said Ince, of the main opposition centre-left Republican People’s Party (CHP).




Constitutional changes

Overall, 56.39 million Turkish citizens are eligible to cast their ballots – 53.34 million in Turkey and 3.05 million abroad.

Voting at diplomatic missions outside the country ended on June 19, while ballot boxes at entry points to Turkey will remain open until the elections end.

The voting on Sunday will be the first time that presidential and parliamentary polls are held simultaneously, in line with the last year’s constitutional changes that will transform the country’s parliamentary system to an executive presidential one.

The changes will largely enter into force after the elections. They are set to hand the next president significant executive powers and will abolish the prime ministry as well as remove the monitoring role of parliament, among others.

The new system will allow the presidential office to appoint vice presidents, ministers, high-level officials and senior judges. The president will also be able to dissolve parliament, issue executive decrees, and impose a state of emergency.

Erdogan, who hopes to keep his seat with increased powers and secure a strong parliamentary majority, entered the race in the face of a depreciating lira and straining relations with the West.

New alliances

Originally scheduled for November 3, 2019, the vote was moved forward by more than 18 months in April by the parliament, which is controlled by Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party)

The AK Party joined forces with the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) to create the People’s Alliance for the polls. Erdogan is the bloc’s joint presidential candidate.

To challenge Erdogan’s alliance, the opposition formed the diverse Nation Alliance, which includes the CHP, the debuting right-wing Good Party (IYI) and the ultraconservative Felicity Party (SP), with backing from the minor centre-right Democrat Party (DP).

The Nation Alliance parties have fielded individual presidential candidates, including CHP’s Ince, whose numbers have been climbing in opinion polls, and Meral Aksener, the popular right-wing politician who leads IYI Party.

Both blocs were established in line with a recently introduced legislation that allows political parties to form election alliances in parliamentary polls. Such alliances were previously banned.

According to a law passed by parliament on March 3, an officially formed bloc can jointly pass Turkey’s unusually high 10 percent parliamentary election threshold.

However, citizens will still vote for the individual parties on the ballots. The legislation is aimed at helping smaller parties enter parliament by joining forces with larger ones.

The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), the only other party that has chances to pass the threshold, has entered elections without an alliance. Its presidential candidate is Selahattin Demirtas, a popular Kurdish politician who has been in jail since 2016 accused of terror-related charges.

A second round of voting will take place on July 7, unless a candidate gets more than 50 percent on Sunday. Presidential hopefuls from the Nation Alliance, as well Demirtas, have declared that if the race goes to a runoff vote, they will back any candidate running against Erdogan.

The elections are taking place under a state of emergency, in place since July 2016 following a failed deadly coup blamed by the government on the movement of Fethullah Gulen, a US-based self-exiled religious leader.

Turkey’s Western allies have repeatedly condemned the Turkish government’s detentions and purges after the coup attempt.

Local and international rights groups accuse the government of using the coup bid as a pretext to silence opposition in the country.

Erdogan’s government says that the purges and detentions are in line with the rule of law and aim to remove Gulen’s supporters from state institutions and other parts of society.

 

Source from : aljazeera.com