|Thursday, January 27, 2000,
Canadian investigator destroyed
A-I crash evidence: report
Indian woman held for husband's
First EU-India summit on June 28
Indians in China
celebrate Republic Day
Public support on Chechnya war
KARACHI, Jan 26 (AP) The criminal trial of deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif began today with the testimony from a former colleague, who said he was ordered to divert a passenger plane with the Army Chief aboard to a Gulf nation.
Sharif and six others are charged with hijacking, terrorism, attempted murder and kidnapping in connection with an incident on October 12 - the day the Army took over - in which a Pakistan International Airlines plane returning Gen. Pervez Musharraf to Pakistan was refused permission to land in Karachi.
Sharif and his co-accused pleaded not guilty.
The Army said Sharif was trying to kill the Army chief and in the process endangered the lives of all 198 passenger and crew aboard the aircraft.
When the aircraft was eventually allowed to land there was apparently only seven minutes of fuel remaining.
Mr Aminuddin Chaudhry, the former Director-General of the Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority, and the prosecution's key witness, was the first to testify. Chaudhry, who had originally been charged along with Sharif, was granted immunity for his testimony.
Chaudhry told the court he received a telephone call from Sharif on the evening of October 12 "instructing me that the plane should not be allowed to land anywhere in Pakistan. Sharif then made a second telephone call, this time to say that the aircraft should be diverted to any country in the Gulf, except the UAE."
After discovering that the aircraft had only 70 minutes of fuel remaining and not enough to reach one of the Gulf states, Mr Chaudhry said he tried and failed to speak again to the Prime Minister. Chaudhry said his instructions were to allow the aircraft to refuel and then take off again without allowing any of the passengers to disembark. "After refuelling the plane, it was to be redirected to Muscat," he told the court.
But when Chaudhry contacted the control tower at the Karachi airport, he said he discovered that the Army had taken over. The aircraft was allowed to land. By then the aircraft apparently had only seven minutes of fuel remaining.
Before the criminal
trial began Sharif's lawyers argued that the
anti-terrorist court had no right to begin the trial
until Pakistan's Supreme Court decides an earlier legal
challenge to the Army takeover.
ISLAMABAD, Jan 26 (PTI) The Pakistan Muslim League (PML), whose leadership has been implicated in various cases after the October 12 military takeover, has said it has established contacts with other parties for restoration of democracy, a media report said yesterday.
Raja Zafarrul Haq, top leader of the Nawaz Sharif-led PML, however, refused to divulge the identity of the parties concerned and only said, "they are all Pakistani parties," according to an English daily, Dawn.
Sharif's wife Kulsoom Nawaz had invited party leaders to a reception at her residence yesterday and briefed them on her contacts with the Awami National Party leadership and her future plans.
Participants at the meeting were of the opinion that all parties were anxious about restoration of democracy but whether they should continue to struggle individually or join hands to mount pressure on the military regime to quit, would be decided subsequently, the daily said.
Quoting insiders, it
said Kulsoom Nawaz was not satisfied by the role played
by the PML to save her husband, and complained it was not
mobilising people for "a future situation." In
case the party remained unmoved "as it is at
present," she threatened to go the masses alone, it
Canadian investigator destroyed A-I crash evidence: report
MONTREAL, Jan 26 (AFP) Lack of cooperation between two Canadian police agencies led to the destruction of key evidence in the investigation of a 1985 Air India plane crash, the Globe and Mail newspaper has reported.
The plane was en route from Montreal to New Delhi, via London, when it exploded off the coast of Ireland, killing 329 persons. Most of those killed were Canadian.
Investigators established that the crash was caused by a bomb attack, but the case was closed without any charges being filed.
A former agent of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (SCRS), who was involved in the investigation told the Globe and Mail yesterday, on the condition that he remain unidentified, that he had destroyed some 150 hours of recorded interviews with two people who had been questioned as part of the investigation.
The two sources, members of the Sikh community in Vancouver, had requested anonymity, and he feared their request would not be honoured if the tapes were turned over to federal police, he said.
DETROIT(Michigan), Jan 26 (AFP) An Indian woman has been arraigned on murder charges in the stabbing death of her husband, just one month after their marriage, the police said.
The body of Ramesh Sutariya, 28, was found on Saturday lying in a pool of blood inside the foyer of their apartment in Canton, a Detroit suburb, apparently after a domestic fight.
Sutariya, a US resident, "was stabbed as many as 22 times," Sergeant Ernie Sayre of Canton police said yesterday.
His wife, Kinnari Ramesh Sutariya, 20, suffered a small cut on the back of one hand in the incident, and is being held without bail after pleading not guilty to the murder charges at a district court in nearby Plymouth, Michigan.
"It was an arranged marriage. They got married in India on Christmas eve," said Sayre. "It is my understanding they got here a week ago."
ISLAMABAD, Jan 26 (AP) Afghanistan's ruling Taliban and Pakistan's military leaders have rebuffed US appeal of crackdown on terrorism, and one militant group has warned of a violent backlash if they tried.
On a visit to the region last week, a top American envoy urged the outlawing of a group blamed for hijacking an Indian Airlines plane last month and that steps also be taken to bring terror suspect Osama Bin Laden to justice.
Pakistan did not agree to any specific actions. India charges that Pakistan had a hand in the hijacking, a claim that the USA has rejected. And in neighbouring Afghanistan, Taliban leaders have refused to hand over Bin Laden, charged in the USA with masterminding the deadly bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.
Of particular concern to
the USA is Harkat ul-Mujahedeen, the successor to a
Pakistani-based organisation that has been declared a
terrorist group by Washington. A spokesman for a sister
organisation, Harkat ul-Jehad, warned of violence if the
government tried to close the group's offices in
BEIJING, Jan 26 (PTI) Indians in China celebrated the country's 51st Republic Day today by unfurling the Tricolour and singing National Anthem and patriotic songs, with the Heads of Missions reading out the message of President K.R. Narayanan.
In Beijing, India's Ambassador to China V.K. Nambiar, led the main celebration function in the Embassy compound. He also read out the President's message which noted that the year marked the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and China.
In Shanghai, China's financial capital, the growing Indian community took a day off to attend the function organised by the Consulate General of India.
LAHORE, Jan 26 (AP) Dozens of bearded men in camouflage uniforms and wielding automatic rifles overran the Lahore international airport today to welcome Maulana Masood Azhar one of three militants freed by India to end last month's hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane.
Looking like a small Army, more than 100 men all believed to be members of the militant Islamic group Harakat-ul-Mujahedeen of which Azhar is a member appeared to overrun the airport, their weapons prominently displayed, said eyewitnesses.
Azhar emerged from the terminal building surrounded by dozens of bodyguards. His cavalcade of motorcycles, pick up trucks and cars roared through the streets of the eastern Punjab capital. Men with weapons were packed into the back of trucks and on motorcycles.
The entourage of about 200 came to a stop at Al-Mansoor, an Islamic religious school, on the outskirts of the city. As Azhar entered, about 1,000 persons waved their hands and shouted God is great.
WASHINGTON, Jan 26 (PTI) The USA is considering the "intelligence" India has shared with it by way of proving Pakistani complicity in the recent hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane, the Washington Post has said.
"We are considering it," the Post quoted a senior official as saying yesterday.
As of now the US said it had no reason to believe that the Government of Pakistan had prior knowledge about the hijacking.
"We do not have reason to believe that the Government of Pakistan had foreknowledge, supported or helped carry out this terrorist hijacking," state department spokesman James Rubin told reporters here yesterday.
MOSCOW, Jan 26 (AFP) Russian forces battled Chechen fighters in the streets of Grozny today and as the Russian death toll mounted there were signs that public support was waning.
Even Moscow's tightly-controlled television appeared to break with the official line and aired unprecedented criticism of the Chechen war.
The respected private NTV broadcast an hour-long programme last evening highlighting anti-war protests by the public and officials - a marked departure from earlier programmes which exalted the Chechen campaign.
This could signal trouble for Acting President Vladimir Putin and his chances in the March 26 election, with the possibility of an unexpectedly tight race against liberal opponents to the war.
Russians fought close-range street battles with well-armed Chechen fighters in Grozny today for the 10th consecutive day which unofficial sources and soldiers on the battlefield said had killed hundreds.
Russian military headquarters insisted that fewer than 1,000 soldiers had been killed in the breakaway Republic since their forces invaded Chechnya on Oct 1. Independent sources, however, vehemently dismissed the reports and put the figure at more than 3,000 dead.
Alexei Arbatov, Deputy Head of Parliament's defence committee in the state Duma for the past four years, stressed Russia must open peace talks with leaders of Chechnya, adding that Moscow could no longer negotiate with Chechnya from a position of strength.
BRUSSELS, June 26 (AFP) The first European Union-India summit will be held in Lisbon, capital of the current European Union presidency, on June 28, EU sources said on Wednesday.
The decision to hold a summit with India had already been made by the presidency with the idea of "making up the deficit" in relations between India and the EU, which has already held summits with the United States, Canada, Russia, Japan and China.
The EU will be
represented at the summit by Portuguese Prime Minister
Antonio Guterres, European Commission President Romano
Prodi and the EU`s high representative for security and
foreign affairs, Javier Solana.
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