Pakistan court declares jail trial of ex-PM Imran Khan illegal

Islamabad, Nov 21 (EFE).- A Pakistani court ruled on Tuesday that the jail trial of ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan in a case related to leaking state secrets was illegal, his party said.

Khan and then-foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi are charged with leaking diplomatic correspondence between Washington and Islamabad.

Khan has asserted that the cable, also known as a cipher, was evidence that his removal in April 2022 was part of an American conspiracy due to his neutral stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Washington has consistently denied these allegations.

Currently in Adiala jail in Rawalpindi, Khan and Qureshi were indicted in the case on October 23. They have pleaded not guilty.

The “Islamabad High Court has annulled a trial conducted within prison premises,” Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party said in a statement.

The PTI chief had filed an intra-court appeal against the trial being conducted inside the prison. The verdict, reserved earlier in the day, was announced later in the evening.

In mid-August, a special court was formed under the Official Secrets Act to conduct the trial through in-camera proceedings.

On Aug. 29, before the first hearing in the case, the federal law ministry issued a notification declaring the trial would be held in prison due to “security concerns.”

All hearings in the case have since been held in jail, with no media presence.

However, the order said that the proceedings and the trial conducted on jail premises were vitiated.

The order said there was no provision in the criminal code that compelled the magistrate to hold court in a usual courtroom.

“In exceptional circumstances and where it is conducive to justice, a trial can be conducted in jail in a manner that fulfills the requirements of an open trial or a trial in camera, provided it is under the procedure provided by law,” it said.

Khan was arrested on Aug. 5 in a case related to not disclosing the proceeds earned through selling state gifts. On Aug. 29, his sentence was suspended by the high court, but before he was released, a special court had directed jail authorities to keep him in “judicial lockup” in the cipher case.

His lawyers and family members raised serious questions about the transparency of the jail trial.

They accused the government and the powerful military establishment of keeping Khan out of general elections due in February next year by sentencing him in a secret trial.

“It’s a victory of justice,” said one of Qureshi’s lawyers after the verdict. “The application for an open trial was put up so that not only family members but also the public and media could see how the trial was proceeding.” EFE


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