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Pakistan’s Khan to stay jailed despite suspension of graft conviction

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A court in Pakistan on Tuesday ordered the release of former prime minister Imran Khan after suspending his conviction on graft charges, his lawyers said, but another tribunal extended his arrest in a separate case.

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) said Khan should be released on bail, his lawyer Babar Awan said.

Then, around an hour later, a different court ordered Khan to be kept in jail on charges of leaking the content of an officially classified document during his tenure as prime minister.

The 70-year-old former sports star faces a flurry of charges since his removal as premier through a parliamentary vote of confidence last year.

Judge Mohamed Zulqarnain, who heads a court overseeing the investigation of the leak of a diplomatic cable, issued the order that Khan be kept in jail until Wednesday and be brought before him.

Former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi is already in police custody for the probe of leaking the content of a cable about a conversation between a U.S. and a Pakistani diplomat.

Weeks before his ouster in April 2022, Khan claimed the U.S. hatched a conspiracy with his opponents to remove him because he got close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He waved a paper at a public rally in Islamabad claiming that this cable sent by the Pakistani ambassador to the U.S. was proof.

A conviction on the charges of leaking the content of a classified document can result in a jail term.

Khan was convicted and jailed for three years by a local court in Islamabad earlier this month on charges of stealing expensive gifts that were in state possession.

He had received them from other countries during his tenure as prime minister between 2018 and 2022.

Under Pakistani law, gifts received from other countries have to be submitted to the state kitty.

Khan’s conviction also resulted in his disqualification from any public office for five years.

The suspension of the conviction would not yet end Khan’s disqualification, lawyer Ihsan Ahmed said.

Pakistan has been in a political mess since Khan was removed through a parliamentary vote of confidence last year.

The country’s economy faces a risk of default due to low productivity aggravated by last year’s mega flooding.

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Putin Registers As Candidate For Russia’s Next Presidential Election

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Russia on Monday officially recognised Vladimir Putin as a candidate for the presidential elections in March, a vote that he is all but certain to win.

The 71-year-old has led Russia since the turn of the century, winning four presidential ballots and briefly serving as prime minister in a system where opposition has become virtually non-existent.

The Central Election Commission said it had registered Putin, who nominated himself, as well as right-wing firebrand and Putin-loyalist Leonid Slutsky as candidates for the vote.

The election will be held over a three-day period from March 15 to 17, a move that Kremlin critics have argued makes guaranteeing transparency more difficult.

Following a controversial constitutional reform in 2020, Putin could stay in power until at least 2036.

Rights groups say that previous elections have been marred by irregularities and that independent observers are likely to be barred from monitoring the vote.

While Putin is not expected to face any real competition, liberal challenger Boris Nadezhdin has passed the threshold of signatures to be registered as a candidate.

However, it is still unclear if he will be allowed to run, and the Kremlin has said it does not consider him to be a serious rival.

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Hong Kong court grants Chinese real estate giant reorganisation postponement

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Hong Kong’s Supreme Court has once again granted the highly indebted Chinese real estate giant Evergrande a postponement for its reorganisation plan.

Judge Linda Chan surprisingly postponed the decision until Jan. 29, the South China Morning Post reported on Monday.

The property developer, which has liabilities estimated at more than 300 billion dollars, is threatened with liquidation.

However, creditors from abroad had taken the company to court because of its missing several payments.

Chan had already said at the previous hearing that this would be the last postponement and that she would very likely agree to liquidation if China Evergrande did not find a plan for restructuring with its creditors.

According to reports, however, the lawyers of the Hong Kong-listed group had now held out the prospect of being able to reach an agreement with the lenders in the coming weeks.

In the case of liquidation, an insolvency administrator would monetise the company and pay out the creditors.

Meanwhile, some experts were of the opinion that liquidation would return less money to creditors than a reorganisation, China Evergrande argued the same in court, according to reports.

The group had been trying to submit a restructuring plan since 2022, without success. Its founder and once China’s richest man, Hui Ka Yan, is being investigated by the Chinese authorities.

Like many other property groups, the company had been in a serious crisis for some time because it is earning significantly less on the slumping property market.

The company is finding it more difficult to obtain state support and is no longer able to service its loans.

“The Evergrande case also shows that the era of large private property developers in China is coming to an end,’’ says Max Zenglein from the Merics China Institute in Berlin.

If Chan decides to wind up China Evergrande, this could also have an impact on other companies.

“One challenge for the government will be to prevent domino effects in the economy caused by major bankruptcies,’’ says Zenglein.

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