Mueller seeks tough sentence for ex-Trump campaign chairman Manafort

US Special Counsel Robert Mueller, shown in this file photo, wants a strict prison sentence for President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, after a jury last year convicted him on eight counts of bank and tax fraud. (REUTERS)
Updated 16 February 2019

Mueller seeks tough sentence for ex-Trump campaign chairman Manafort

  • Manafort was convicted by a jury last year on eight counts of bank and tax fraud
  • A judge ruled lately that Manafort had breached his plea agreement in a parallel case

WASHINGTON: Prosecutors for Special Counsel Robert Mueller urged a federal judge in Virginia on Friday to impose a strict prison sentence for President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, after a jury last year convicted him on eight counts of bank and tax fraud.
In their sentencing memo filed in US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, prosecutors said Manafort, who is 69, deserves between 19.6 and 24.4 years in prison and a fine of between $50,000 and $24 million.
Friday’s court filing in Virginia came just days after a federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled that Manafort had breached his plea agreement in a parallel case by lying to investigators despite a pledge to cooperate.
That finding earlier this week by Judge Amy Berman Jackson in US District Court for the District of Columbia could have a direct impact on how Manafort is sentenced in the Virginia case.
Judge T.S. Ellis in Alexandria, Virginia, had planned to sentence Manafort on Feb. 8, but he later postponed that until after Jackson’s ruling, saying it “may have some effect on the sentencing decision in this case.”
Manafort was one of the first people in Trump’s orbit to face criminal charges as part of Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to tilt the 2016 presidential election in his favor.
Trump has denied colluding and called the probe a witch hunt, while Russia has denied meddling in the election.
None of the charges Manafort faced related directly to Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.
In the Virginia case, prosecutors accused Manafort of hiding from US tax authorities $16 million he earned as a political consultant for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine, money he used to fund an opulent lifestyle.
Later, when his lobbying work started to dry up following the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, prosecutors said Manafort began lying to banks to secure $20 million in loans to keep his lifestyle afloat.
After almost four days of deliberations, a 12-member jury found Manafort guilty on two counts of bank fraud, five counts of tax fraud and one charge of failing to disclose foreign bank accounts. 


Kabul to rebuild birthplace of famous poet Rumi

Updated 39 min 44 sec ago

Kabul to rebuild birthplace of famous poet Rumi

KABUL: Afghan authorities are planning to rebuild a 13th-century Islamic teaching complex in Balkh province that once was home to one of the world’s most famous mystics and poets, Jalaluddin Rumi.

Rumi was born in the Balkh complex in 1207. The learning site, which comprised a mosque, monastery and madrasa for hundreds of disciples, belonged to his father, the theologian Bahauddin Walad, known by Afghans as Sultan Al-Ulema.

A few years after Rumi’s family left Balkh around 1210, the prosperous town northwest of the provincial capital, Mazar-e Sharif, was destroyed by Genghis Khan’s Mongols storming in from the northeast. 

Work to rebuild Balkh took more than a century and the learning site remained in ruins. Centuries later, when billions of dollars of foreign aid began to reach Afghanistan following the ouster of the Taliban in 2001, the Kabul government came under fire for failing to restore Walad’s center.

However, restoration work is now due to begin in spring with the onset of warmer weather.

“It will be rebuilt in a classic and traditional manner,” Shivaye Sharq, Afghan deputy information minister, told Arab News last week.

“With the revival of the monastery, we hope to introduce people to a lost treasure,” he said. “In addition to the monastery, there will be a museum, a studio for sama dance, a cultural salon, garden and library.”

The whirling dance of sama is associated with Rumi, whose followers practice it as a form of prayer and devotion. 

Since Rumi lived most of his life in Anatolia, Turkey, and was buried in Konya, where his shrine became a place of pilgrimage, the Turkish government years ago pledged to help rebuild his father’s center, but the promise has not been fulfilled.

Matiullah Karimi, head of the information and culture center in Balkh province, said the $7 million cost of the restoration project will be covered by the Afghan government.

“A portion of a massive mud-built dome and four smaller ones are the only things left from the monastery,” Karimi told Arab News.

“Restoring this monastery is important for safeguarding our cultural heritage and learning, and it will be good for the tourism industry as well,” he said.

For Afghan scholars, the restoration of the learning center will also help society at large.

“The advancement of a nation is not gauged by the rising buildings, long roads and wealth that do not promote knowledge and science, but by libraries, knowledge and centers like Walad’s, which was a source of hope for many,” Hashmatullah Bawar, a social sciences lecturer at Kabul’s Dunya University, told Arab News.

The appeal of Rumi, who in the 21st century is still considered one of the world’s greatest and also bestselling poets, reinforces the enthusiasm over the reconstruction of his father’s center. 

“Rumi inherited his mystical thinking from his great father,” Saleh Mohammed Khaliq, head of Balkh Writers’ Union, told Arab News.

“Humanist and mystical thought is badly needed in our current world, which has become a victim of violence and wars.”