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Jakarta ex-governor freed from prison after blasphemy sentence

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JAKARTA: Jakarta’s former governor has been released from prison, his assistant said Thursday, nearly two years after his blasphemy conviction fanned fears over religious intolerance in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation.

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama — the Indonesian capital’s first non-Muslim governor in half a century and its first ethnic Chinese leader — left Mako Brimob prison in Depok, outside Jakarta, at around 7:30 am local time, Ima Mahdiah told media.

Supporters of the former governor, who is popularly known as Ahok, gathered outside the prison, chanting and cheering his new-found freedom.

The release ends one of the most tumultuous chapters in Indonesian politics in recent memory.

Purnama had been a popular politician who won praise for trying to clean up the traffic-clogged megacity and clamp down on corruption before his imprisonment.

But his downfall came quickly after comments he made on the campaign trail during a re-election bid saw him accused of insulting Islam.

The filmed remarks, which went viral online, sparked mass protests in Jakarta, spearheaded by radical groups opposed to a non-Muslim leader and encouraged by his political rivals.

He lost the election to a Muslim challenger and was then sentenced to two years’ jail in May 2017.

It was an unusually harsh sentence — prosecutors had only recommended probation for the now 52-year-old.

“He was picked up by his son Nicholas Sean Purnama” after being released, his assistant Mahdiah said. “He will spend time with his family first, resting.”

Purnama’s case drew international headlines and a wave of criticism, including from the United Nations, which urged the country of 260 million to revise its decades-old blasphemy law.

The charge against him centred on a remark he made to voters about his Muslim rivals using a Koranic verse to trick people into voting against him, which judges ruled amounted to blasphemy against Islam.

 

 

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IFJ and PFUJ condemn murder of journalist in N. Ireland

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LONDON: President Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) G. M. Jamali, while strongly condemning the murder of 29-year-old freelance journalist Lyra McKee in a terrorist incident, demanded a thorough probe in order to identify and apprehend the culprits. 

Philippe Leruth, President International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has termed the murder of 29-year-old freelance journalist Lyra McKee ‘a real loss of press freedom for the young generation of journalists’. On behalf of IFJ, he urged the Irish authorities to ensure a full investigation into her death.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton calling McKee’s death horrendous and unjustified told that the shooting happened when police were searching for munitions and firearms after tips that terror attacks were planned for the Easter weekend. “A single gunman fired shots in a residential area of the city and as a result wounded Ms. McKee,” he added.

Lyra McKee has been shot dead during riots in the city of Londonderry in Northern Ireland and Police is treating the incident as an act of terrorism. Republican politician blamed so-called dissidents behind the latest augmentation in aggression that shook the disturbed area.

Images posted on social media shows a couple of vehicles in flames and hooded hooligans attacking the Police with petrol bombs.

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US partners with KP to combat poppy cultivation 

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ISLAMABAD:  Over the past three decades, Pakistan has reduced poppy cultivation by 87 percent with the partnership of the United States.

In a bid to continue to combat poppy growth, the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) received a contribution of seven new Toyota Hilux pickup trucks from the United States.  The KP government will use the vehicles to implement crop control and related development projects in the districts of Bajaur, Mohmand, and Khyber. 

Deputy Chief of Mission John Hoover, speaking on the occasion, held: “We are proud to continue our longstanding partnership with the KP government and former FATA Secretariat, which has resulted in a significant decrease in poppy cultivation, ultimately benefitting the people of KP and the rest of Pakistan.”

This is part of an overall 589 million rupees ($5.1 million) donation to the provincial government to combat poppy cultivation in the merged areas.  Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Narcotics Control Sabino Sikandar Jalal and KP’s Director General Projects, Merged Area Secretariat Khalid Ilyas participated in the event. The assistance underscores the American government’s long history of partnership with Pakistan in its mission to combat poppy growth.  

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PS: Over the past 37 years, the United States has invested $60 million in Pakistani efforts to support rural communities in developing economic alternatives to narcotics production; expand legal employment opportunities, especially for women; provide training in sustainable farming techniques; construct roads that extend the writ of the government and provide farm-to-market access; and construct small water supply projects that increase the viability of growing alternative crops. 

The U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), which provided the crop control assistance, works in more than 90 countries to help combat crime and corruption, counter the narcotics trade, improve police institutions, and promote court systems that are fair and accountable. 

 

 

 

 

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Ali Raza Abidi murder: CTD tells court it identified suspects

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KARACHI: An anti-terrorism court here has directed the Counter-terrorism Department (CTD) of Sindh police to arrest three absconding accused in the Ali Raza Abidi murder case and present them before it on next hearing.

In a major headway, CTD investigators have identified the suspect who fired shots at the Muttahida Qaumi Movement – Pakistan (MQM-P) leader, according to a progress report submitted to the court.

Suspect Bilal, one of the three absconding accused, shot at Ali Raza Abidi, said CTD, adding the absconders will be arrested soon.

Meanwhile, the court issued non-bailable warrants for the arrest of the accused and directed CTD to nab and present them before it on the next hearing.

 

 

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