Pakistan court hears ex-PM Imran Khan’s petition challenging arrest

Islamabad, May 12 (EFE).- A court in Islamabad on Friday is hearing a writ petition filed by former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan challenging his arrest by a government anti-graft agency on corruption charges.

Khan, who was ousted from power in April last year after losing a no-confidence vote in parliament, was arrested on Tuesday on the premises of the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

On Thursday, a three-member bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandia, declared Khan’s arrest “invalid and unlawful” and ordered him to be produced before the IHC again.

The court said the execution of the arrest warrant of Khan “violated the petitioner’s right of access to justice and the sanctity and safety of the court.”

However, the top court ruled that, in order to ensure security, the former prime minister shall remain at the Police Lines Guest House in Islamabad where he had been kept since his arrest.

The court also ordered that Khan be allowed to meet up to 10 guests for as long as he wished.

The IHC will decide whether Khan will be released or detained again as sought by the National Accountability Bureau, the anti-corruption watchdog investigating the Al-Qadir University Trust land case.

The embattled ex-prime minister is accused of receiving nearly 60 acres of land worth 7 billion Pakistani rupees ($24 million) as bribe from real estate tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain, one of Pakistan’s richest and most powerful businessmen.

In 2019, Malik entered into an out-of-court settlement agreement with Britain’s National Crime Agency for the repatriation of 190 million pounds ($239 million) to the government of Pakistan in a money laundering case.

The then cabinet of Khan approved that the money be sent back to Malik’s account, apparently in return for the land.

The land was obtained in the name of Al-Qadir University Trust to build a charitable university.

According to documents, the trust was set up by Khan’s third wife, Bushra Bibi.

However, Khan denied the charges, saying the land had been donated for charitable purposes.

On Wednesday, Khan was also indicted in the Toshakhana (meaning treasure house) graft case.

He is accused of not disclosing the money he earned by selling state gifts he had received on foreign visits as PM.

Khan had earlier pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Khan is facing more than 100 cases, ranging from corruption to sedition to terrorism, all of which, he claims, are politically motivated.

His arrest on Tuesday sparked widespread violent protests in the country in which at least eight people were killed and over 100 were injured.

Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party said that hundreds of its supporters and top leadership have been arrested following his arrest.

According to the party, senior PTI leader Shireen Mazari was taken into custody by the Islamabad Police early Friday.

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