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Pakistan ex-PM Khan given three-year jail sentence

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Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has been given three-year jail sentence over corruption allegations.

Mr Khan was found guilty of not declaring money earned from selling gifts he received in office. He denies the charges and says he will appeal.

After the verdict, Mr Khan was taken into custody from his home in Lahore.

In a pre-recorded statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, he told his supporters: “I have only one appeal, don’t sit at home silently.”

The former cricketer-turned-politician, 70, was elected in 2018, but was ousted in a no-confidence vote last year after falling out with Pakistan’s powerful military.

Mr Khan is facing more than 100 cases brought against him since his removal – charges he says are politically motivated.

Saturday’s verdict centred on charges that he incorrectly declared details of presents from foreign dignitaries and proceeds from their alleged sale.

The gifts – reported to be worth more than 140m Pakistani rupees ($635,000; £500,000) – included Rolex watches, a ring and a pair of cuff links.

“His dishonesty has been established beyond doubt,” judge Humayun Dilawar wrote in his ruling.

Mr Khan’s barrister Gohar Khan said the verdict was “a murder of justice”.

“We weren’t even given a chance. We weren’t even allowed to cross [examine], to say anything in defence or conduct our arguments. I haven’t seen this kind of injustice before,” he told Dawn newspaper.

As the court decision was announced, a crowd, which included some prosecuting lawyers, began chanting “Imran Khan is a thief” outside the building.

His party, Tehreek-e-Insaf, confirmed to the BBC that after being arrested in Lahore, Mr Khan was flown to the capital, Islamabad, to begin serving his sentence.

For months he had avoided arrest, with his supporters at times fighting pitched battles with police to keep him out of custody.

In May, Mr Khan was arrested for not appearing at court as requested. He was then released, with the arrest declared illegal.

Since then, his party has been under intense pressure from the authorities.

Many senior officials have left and thousands of supporters have been arrested, accused of being involved in the protests that followed Mr Khan’s arrest.

When questioned by BBC HARDTalk as to whether he had created an atmosphere of hostility to the military resulting in violence, Mr Khan said he and his party had never advocated the use of violence and had a record of peaceful protest.

Mr Khan said the army in Pakistan was “petrified” of elections which his party would win “hands-down” and, for that reason, “they’re dismantling a democracy”.

Pakistan’s army plays a prominent role in politics, sometimes seizing power in military coups, and, on other occasions, pulling levers behind the scenes.

Many analysts believe Mr Khan’s election win in 2018 happened with the help of the military.

In opposition, he has been one of its most vocal critics, and analysts say the army’s popularity has fallen.

Since being ousted, Mr Khan has been campaigning for early elections.

Conviction would disqualify Mr Khan from standing for office, possibly for life.

Pakistan’s parliament will be dissolved on August 9, leaving a caretaker government to take over in the run up to the elections.

No election date has been announced, although constitutionally they should take place by early November.

Source – BBC

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SLFP to support no-confidence motion against the Speaker

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The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) has announced its endorsement of the no-confidence motion to be brought against the Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena.

Accordingly, the SLFP announced that it will support the motion being brought against the Speaker by the opposition, and will vote in favour of it.

On Monday (26 Feb.), several Opposition members, led by Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Leader Sajith Premadasa, signed a motion of no confidence against the Speaker, claiming that he had violated the Constitution.

As such, a group of MPs belonging to the opposition in Parliament including M. A. Sumanthiran, Lakshman Kiriella, Prof. G. L. Pieris, Tissa Attanayake, Chandima Weerakkody and Shan Wijayalal de Silva, had inked the motion for approving the much-disputed Online Safety Bill amidst ‘irregular procedures’.

The no-confidence motion pointed out that the Speaker had ignored the Supreme Court’s recommendations pertaining to Sections 13, 17, 20, 33 (6), 34 (1), 35 (1), 21, 22 and 33 of the Online Safety Bill.

Earlier this month, Opposition Leader charged that the Speaker had ignored nine recommendations given by the Supreme Court while enacting the Online Safety Act, adding that they no longer have faith in him.

(adaderana.lk)

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School outdoor activities suspended over soaring temperatures

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The Education Ministry has instructed all respective school authorities to refrain from making students participate in strenuous outdoor activities until Friday (March 01) at schools as temperatures are expected to rise further.

Accordingly, Sports Day events, sports practices or any other scheduled outdoor activities are urged to be suspended for the time being.

Provincial and zonal authorities of education have been instructed to brief school principals about the matter, the ministry said in a press release.

In addition, school administrations are required to comply with the health guidelines issued by the Health Ministry and the Education Ministry.

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Court suspends divestiture process of SLT & Lanka Hospitals

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The Court of Appeal yesterday (27) issued an interim order preventing authorities from proceeding with the divestiture process of Sri Lanka Telecom and Lanka Hospitals Corporation PLC, until March 12.

Three Petitions were filed for Sri Lanka Telecom PLC including by Lyca Mobiles, and S.M.R. M company, while two petitions were filed for Lanka Hospitals Corporation PLC including by Lyca Leasing Holdings.

Upon the oral submissions made by President’s Counsel Kuvera De Zoysa, Court of Appeal Justice D.N. Samarakoon issued notices on respondents, returnable for March 12.

The petitioners named Minister of Finance Ranil Wickremesinghe, State Minister of Finance Shehan Semasinghe, the members of the special Cabinet-appointed negotiating committee for the purpose of selecting pre-qualified bidders for the strategic divestiture pertaining to 51.34% shares of Lanka Hospitals PLC and several others as respondents.

Kuvera De Zoysa, PC with Raslka Dissanayake, Sajana de Zoysa, Dinusha Pathirana and Shablr Huzalr instructed by Sanath Wijewardane appeared for the petitioners.

The petitioners had informed the court that they had submitted bids per the required criteria for the divestiture of the Sri Lankan Government’s shares of 50.23% in Sri Lanka Telecom PLC and 51.34% in Lanka Hospitals Corporation PLC.

The petitioners alleged that, however, the Cabinet of Ministers had rejected the bids without providing any clear explanations, adding that the decision was against the law.

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