|Sunday, April 2, 2000,
Sharif, pleads Benazir
acquitted in fraud case
|Israeli firm to better Indian
JERUSALEM, April 1 An Israeli company has won a crucial deal to upgrade Indian artillery, outcompeting its French, Swedish, Czech and South African competitors, according to a media report here.
Atal, Blair to
mediate in Lankan crisis
erupts for 3rd time in Japan
Fools coup in Philippines
testifies in shooting case
Russian commandos bodies found
|Jiangs nephew in real estate
BEIJING, April 1 The nephew of Chinese President Jiang Zemin is embroiled in a 11.5 million yuan real estate scandal in eastern Jiangsu province, a rights group and bank officials said yesterday.
Spare Sharif, pleads Benazir
LAHORE, April 1 (ANI) Former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has appealed the Musharraf regime not to hang Nawaz Sharif, and said to do so would leave the regime in particular and Pakistan in general more isolated from the international community than ever before.
In an interview with BBC Television, Ms Benazir said: Lets be professional in principals. It is wrong to hang Prime Ministers. Nawaz may have been a bad ruler, he may have misgoverned, but you do not hang a person for that.
Ms Benazir said there was a strong desire for democracy among the people of Pakistan.
When asked if General Musharraf was serious about the return to democracy, Ms Benazir said the General was confused. He himself is liberal but his constituency is fanatic. He would like to build peace with India. He would like to move in the direction of liberalism. He would like to end one sided political victimisation, but the clique around him wants him to dismantle the two parties state. So he is confused. He does not know whether to go by his own instinct or to go with the group around him, she said.
She said Pakistans military establishment would have to accept the will of the people and give up its contentious attitude towards politicians sooner or later. When asked about her possible return to Pakistan, she said it would not be before next year as she feared that if she returned home now she would be put it prison.
Meanwhile, senior leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League will meet on Monday to discuss plan of action ahead of the April 6 judgement of the anti-terrorism court in the October 12, 1999, plane conspiracy case.
There are indications that the PML would react to the court verdict in the case. However, divergent views persist in the party about whether or not to adopt a confrontational path with the present government.
After this meeting, the
key PML leaders would proceed to Karachi to attend the
court proceedings on April 6. The party high ups will
meet on April 7 to decide to launch a movement against
the government, appoint an acting President and take a
decision regarding local bodies elections.
Zardari acquitted in fraud case
KARACHI, April 1 (ANI) Former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhuttos jailed husband Asif Ali Zardari has been acquitted by the Sindh High Court in the $4 million Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC) fraud case.
The acquittal verdict was delivered by Mr Justice Amanullah Abbasi of the court.
Mr Zardari was alleged to have misappropriate the amount with the help of three other co-accused namely Chani Ansari, Javed Pasha, and Majid Dashir. the amount was secured from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on the alleged pretext of improving the performance of the KESC.
Mr Zardaris counsels Farooq H. Naek and Abu Baker Zardari had earlier filed a criminal revision appeal in the Sindh High Court against the order of Jahangir S. Bhatti, judge of Anti- Corruption-1, Karachi, who had rejected Mr Zardaris acquittal application a few months ago. The counsels, in their revised appeal, described their client as a private man, and, therefore, claimed that the Anti-Corruption Act did not apply to him.
They said the previous government had made him an accused in this fraud case, as he was the husband of a former Premier, The court, allowing the acquittal application of Mr Zardari, directed the anti-corruption court to continue proceeding against Ghani Ansari, Javed Pasha and Majid Bashir in the case.
It is the second time
that Mr Zardari has been granted bail in the case, the
first time being last year on medical grounds. After
this, he was granted bail in other cases, including the
Mir Murtaza Bhutto murder case and the antiques smuggling
cases from other lower courts. He is currently lodged in
the Karachi Central Prison.
Turkey 'not equating Pak with India'
DUBAI, April 1 (PTI) Secular and democratic Turkeys concerns over Pakistans support to militancy in Kashmir and overthrow of democracy may have influenced Prime Minister Bulent Ecevits decision not to visit Pakistan, a leading Turkish daily indicated.
"Ankara wants to signal to the Pakistani leadership its disapproval of military rule and its desire for a quick return to democracy in that country," leading English daily News said quoting observers in Turkey.
It added that "Turkey, which has been a victim of separatist terrorism, is also wary of the fact that some separatist militants have been operating from Pakistan, launching terrorist attacks into Kashmir, killing innocent civilians."
The daily, however, noted that Turkish officials stated that Mr Ecevit will go to Pakistan sometime in the future, but stressed that Turkey also wanted to show that it is not equating Pakistan with India.
"Turkeys ties with Pakistan are independent of its relationship with India," it said quoting officials in Ankara.
"Observers say that the Pakistani ruler may not be able to fight the insurgents, because if he does, he may risk a backlash of powerful Islamic forces inside Pakistan, including segments of the army," the article said.
"Observers say the Pakistani rulers are caught between the West, which is demanding an end to the support for the militants, and the wishes of the strong Islamic forces in the country. Observers stress that even Pakistans Turkish friends, especially those in Turkish military circles, have difficulty coming to terms with backing a regime which draws power from Islamists", the daily said.
Turkey and India are set to intensify their diplomatic contacts by establishing a routine consultations mechanism, it said, adding Mr Ecevit, who is highly-respected here as a well-known scholar, may lay the ground for closer contacts between the two countries.
"The two sides are
also expected to voice their shared concerns about
terrorism, and also to build on their common commitment
to democracy and moderation in the volatile region
stretching from Europe to the Indian sub-continent,"
the daily said.
Israeli firm to better Indian artillery
JERUSALEM, April 1 (PTI) An Israeli company has won a crucial deal to upgrade Indian artillery, outcompeting its French, Swedish, Czech and South African competitors, according to a media report here.
Soltam Systems Ltd has won the $ 47.5 million contract to upgrade 180 artillery pieces of the Indian Army following a tender process which involved competition from French, Swedish, Czech and South African companies, English daily Haaretz reported.
As per the deal, Soltam would upgrade Russian-made M-46 130 mm field artillery pieces into 155 mm guns, similar to the ones used by the Israeli Defence forces, the daily said.
The upgradation would involve replacing of the gun tubes and the firing mechanisms and the upgraded guns would have six-metre tubes and ranges of up to 39 km.
As per the deal, the project is expected to be completed in two years in Israel. The daily said the tender was delayed due to variations in the concepts presented to the Indian Defence Ministry by competing companies. Soltam offered to retain the original structure of the artillery pieces.
For Israel, which has one of the most sophisticated defence systems and is the fifth largest exporter of weapons in the world, India is considered to be the second largest export market for military technologies and hardware, following China.
India is one of the largest users of 130 mm artillery in the world.
There has been an agreement that if the option for further upgrades is implemented, Soltam would cooperate with local Indian industry in the upgrade and transfer know-how for the building of gun-tubes, the daily said.
Israel, a market leader with Americans and French in high altitude technology, follows the USA, Russia, China, and France in exporting weapons world over.
Atal, Blair to mediate in Lankan crisis
COLOMBO, April 1 (UNI) Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and his British counterpart Tony Blair will function as mediators during negotiations between the Sri Lankan Government and Tamil rebels, a Sri Lankan daily said today quoting British newspapers.
Sri Lankas Island newspaper quoted Commonwealth Secretariat sources as having said the move was said to be part of a joint Commonwealth effort led by its chief Emeka Anayoka, who was following the Sri Lankan conflict closely.
The report said Mr Anayoku was to relinquish his post next month, but was desirous of the Commonwealth playing a positive role in the 18-year-old Sri Lankan crisis.
However, a senior Indian High Commission official here dismissed the report as imaginative and ruled out the possibility of Indias involvement when Norway had already expressed its willingness to act as a felicitator to bring the Sri Lankan Government and rebels to the negotiating table.
But the daily quoted
informed sources as having said that Mr
Vajpayee had expressed his willingness to the
Commonwealth Secretariat to play a mediating role in the
Sri Lankan conflict, saying India was a regional power in
South Asia and had direct influence over the LTTE.
Volcano erupts for 3rd time in Japan
DATE (Japan), April 1 (AFP) Superheated steam today cracked open a new crater on Japans Mount Usu volcano in a third eruption that stoked fears of a major explosion ahead.
A new eruption seems to be occurring on the north-western side of Mount Usu, said a written statement issued here by the meteorological office on the northern island of Hokkaido.
Massive clouds of choking grey and ash and snow belched hundreds of metres into the air from the 732-metre volcano, which has burst into life for the first time in more than 20 years.
The key fear is an eruption in Usus main crater, which measures 200 metres by six metres.
From now on, the possibility of a stronger eruption at the top of the mountain will be very high, said Japanese meteorological agency official Takeshi Hachimine.
We may have started seeing the beginning of an eruption bigger than the ones we have witnessed yesterday and earlier today.
Huge amounts of volcanic ash were dumped over a hot spring resort by Lake Toya near the mountain, said a government statement issued today.
Thousands of people have fled the volcano but no injuries have been reported.
An emergency evacuation order was issued on Wednesday after days of rumblings which peaked at hundreds of quakes an hour, allowing many to escape before the eruptions.
April Fools coup in Philippines
MANILA, April 1 (AFP) The military said today that rumours of a weekend coup against Philippine President Joseph Estrada was the biggest of April Fools day jokes, but warned rumour mongers could be charged.
Thats the biggest joke Ive heard today. Remember, its April Fools (day), armed forces spokesman Col Rafael Romero told reporters.
Colonel Romero, however, warned that armed forces personnel spreading rumours about a coup could be charged in military courts.
We have rules and regulations governing military personnel, he said.
Despite brushing off the rumours, the armed forces have been placed on red alert its highest state of combat preparedness since last week and security in military camps and other strategic targets has been strengthened.
Mr Estrada, who has dismissed the rumours as the work of Communist rebels and his political rivals, was visiting the city of Cebu today on the third leg of a four-day tour of the Central Philippines.
Six-yr-old testifies in shooting case
FLINT, MICHIGAN, April 1 (AP) With little more than his eyes and nose visible over the witness stand, a six-year-old boy denied that he shot classmate Kayla Rolland to death and blamed another first-grader.
The boy testified at a preliminary hearing for Jamelle James, 19, who is accused of carelessly storing the semi-automatic handgun that the 6-year-old allegedly found and used to kill Kayla on February 29. James is charged with involuntary manslaughter, the 6-year-old isnt charged.
The boy had to be coaxed into the witness box and barely spoke above a whisper for the 45 minutes he was on the stand. His voice was so quiet, lawyers had to repeat what he said for the court. Often he answered questions simply by shaking his head, looked at the floor or stared blankly at the lawyers.
Judge John L. Conover chatted with the boy and his 8-year-old brother about sports and television to determine they were competent to take the stand. Before the boys testified, Conover ordered all cameras, microphones and a sketch artist out of the courtroom.
The 6-year-old testified that he had seen James playing with the gun and demonstrated how James twirled it in his hands. The prosecutor had to copy the hand motions for the judge because the boy was too short to be seen behind the witness box.
27 Russian commandos bodies found
MOSCOW, April 1 (Reuters) The bodies of at least 27 Russian police commandos caught in an ambush in Chechnya this week have been found at the mountainous site of the attack in the rebel region, Russian news agencies reported today.
Interfax news agency quoted military sources in the region as saying 32 officers had been found dead near the village of Zhani-Vedeno, south of capital Grozny, and 19 had already been taken away for identification. One wounded man was found.
Itar-Tass news agency, quoting officials in the Urals region of Perm, the units home base, said that 27 bodies had been found.
Vladimir Rushailo and top officers flew to the region
yesterday to investigate Wednesdays ambush in which
four commandos were initially reported dead and 39
missing. Reports from the region suggested their convoy
of vehicles had received insufficient protection.
Jiangs nephew in real estate scandal
BEIJING, April 1 (AFP) The nephew of Chinese President Jiang Zemin is embroiled in a 11.5 million yuan real estate scandal in eastern Jiangsu province, a rights group and bank officials said yesterday.
Tai Zhan, Jiangs nephew, has been accused of forging the seal of Yangzhou Gangzhan Real Estate Company and mortgaging 45 of the companys apartments with Yangzhou Industrial and Commerce Bank, the Information Centre of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China said.
Tai was forced to mortgage the apartments to meet payments on 11.5 million yuan in loans he took out from the bank through several different companies, the centre said.
An official at the bank
confirmed the incident took place, but said the decision
to forge the seal was not Tai Zhans alone but the
collective decision by managers at the
Yangzhou Mansions (Yangzhou Dasha), where Tai Zhan
killed, 12 hurt in ferry mishap
12 rescued from
off from Antarctica
Pop singer in
eye of storm
workers leave off rig
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