LONDON, Apr 6
The ousted Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, has been sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of hijacking and terrorism.
However, he was acquitted of two other charges - attempted murder and kidnapping.
Mr Sharif's six co-defendants - who include his brother, Shahbaz, were acquitted of all charges.
Mr Sharif's lawyers have said they will lodge an appeal.
In a message issued through his lawyers, Mr Sharif said: «Today's verdict proves there is no longer any justice in Pakistan.»
The sentence was condemned by Mr Sharif's wife, Kulsoom, who said her husband was the victim of a personal vendetta.
Referring to his party symbol, she said the military «had put the tiger in a cage and could not afford to release him.»
But a government spokesman said the case had been transparent and an example of good governance and accountability.
Mr Sharif's relatives have been told they can spend two hours with him before he is taken back to prison to begin his life sentence.
The chief prosecutor in the case has said that a life sentence can mean 25 years.
Delivering his verdict at a packed court in Karachi, Judge Rehmat Jafri also ordered Mr Sharif to forfeit all his property, and to pay compensation to all those on board the plane he attempted to prevent from landing in Karachi.
Mr Sharif listened without emotion as the ruling was handed down, but there were gasps from his relatives and shouts of «Long live Nawaz Sharif.»
Mr Sharif's wife Kulsoom, who was seated at the rear of the courtroom not far from her husband, whispered prayers from the Koran.
The prosecution had argued for the death sentence for the charge of hijacking.
There was heavy security around the court building in the run up to the verdict with approach roads sealed off.
A convoy of armoured personnel carriers brought the ousted premier and his co-accused to court shortly before 0500 GMT. They had pleaded innocent of all charges.
The case concerns the events of 12 October last year, the date of the military coup which deposed Mr Sharif.
The prosecution said that on that day Mr Sharif attempted to prevent an aircraft carrying the general who leads the military government, Pervez Musharraf, from landing when it was running short of fuel.
General Musharraf accused Mr Sharif of endangering the lives of those on board.
The defence argued that the general's plane was eventually given permission to refuel, and that no harm was intended to anyone.
The judge said Nawaz Sharif bore responsibility for taking control of the aircraft.
In his ruling, he said that had the plane tried to land at Karachi airport with the runway lights switched off and fire vehicles parked nearby, then it would undoubtedly have crashed.
The judge dismissed the defence argument that at the most critical stage of the flight when fuel reserves were low, it was under the control of General Musharraf who was on board at the time.
On Wednesday, Mr Sharif's wife, Kulsoom, joined supporters of her husband's Pakistan Muslim League (PML) party in a special prayer meeting ahead of the verdict.
A senior figure in the party said there would be no protests if Mr Sharif was found guilty.
ALMATY, April 6 (THE GLOBE)
«Azamat leaders are ready to nominate themselves to Akims of Astana and Almaty and thus, to replenish the authorities' staff vacuum,» the Azamat chairman announced on Thursday in Almaty.
According to Galym Abilsiitov, this variant is possible in one condition. A democratic and honest election of Akims should be held in these cities shortly.
He said under conditions of personal authority, it was high time to establish a multi-party political system. Today this is the key vector of the country's political development and the major political slogan of Azamat.
To achieve these goals it is necessary to realise the idea of local self-governing and to appoint Akims by election. First of all we are talking of election in big cities of the country.
ALMATY, Apr 6
By the information of Almaty office of REUTERS, general director of Tractebel Jean-Pier Hansen stated that the court had unfrozen the assets of group of companies Tractebel, and that the operator of Kazakhstani gas network Intergas Central Asia had fully resumed its activities beginning from March 31.
Assets and shares of Intergas, which received two gas pipelines for 20 year consignment, were frozen on March 20 by Kazakhstani court. As Hansen says, all assets, except for the shares of the group, were released. The company has incurred $36 mln loss during the last two years, but the matter on leaving Kazakhstan has not solved yet.
LONDON, Apr 6
The Turkish Government has announced that it will not resign, despite losing a key vote on planned constitutional amendments.
The Turkish Prime Minister, Bulent Ecevit, said Turkey could not afford instability at a time of political and economic reform designed to prepare Turkey for European Union membership negotiations.
He said he would stay in office, despite being defeated over legislation regarded as essential to the unity of his coalition government.
The proposal, if passed, would have given President Suleyman Demirel a chance to stand for re-election.
Correspondents of RFE/RL report that Madel Ismailov - leader of Kazakhstan's Workers Movement was arrested today, April 6, by Almaty police. Mr. Ismailov officially faces charges of participation in non-sanctioned mass gathering held by Almaty pensioners on March 30 this year. About two years ago Mr. Ismailov had accomplished his 1 year term in prison, where he had been put after having been found guilty of cursing Nursultan Nazarbayev - the President, in public. Meanwhile Irina Savostina - leader of POKOLENIYE movement, uniting Kazakhstani pensioners, is going to ask political asylum in Russian Federation. Mrs. Savostina told correspondents of RFE/RL that her decision was caused by worsening democratic situation in Kazakhstan. Chairman of Republican People Party's Executive Committee Ghaziz Aldamzharov told correspondents of RFE/RL that Kazakh officials started a new wave of oppression towards all the opposition movements and political parties of the country.
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