Crime & Justice

Pakistan ex-PM Imran Khan’s trial to be held in prison with public access

Islamabad, Nov 28 (EFE).- The trial of former Prime Minister Imran Khan, accused of leaking confidential documents, will be held on Friday at the prison where he is being held, his political party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), said on Tuesday.

“Cypher Case trial to start again within the prison premises with media/public access,” PTI spokesperson Ahmed Janjua said, citing a court order on Tuesday.

“The authorities did not produce him before the court, citing serious security risks,” Janjua added.

The party’s spokesperson said that the failure to produce Khan before court on Tuesday was not only a clear violation of court orders but also “an attempt to keep the most popular leader of this country out of sight of millions and the media, on top of denying (him) access to a fair trial.”

The Pakistani authorities justified their decision not to present the former prime minister before court due to security reasons, the same reason cited by the justice ministry to order in August -, before the first hearing -, that the trial be held in Adiala jail, where Khan is imprisoned along with his aide and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

Last week, the Islamabad High Court had annulled a government order allowing a jail trial of Khan.

Following the court order, Special Court Judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain ordered the authorities to present Khan and Qureshi before his court in Islamabad.

Khan, along with Qureshi, is charged with leaking diplomatic correspondence between Washington and Islamabad.

He has claimed that the diplomatic cable, also known as a cipher, was proof that his ouster in April 2022 was part of a US conspiracy to remove him over his neutral stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Both Khan and Qureshi, who have pleaded not guilty, were indicted in the case on Oct. 23.

A special court was formed under the Official Secrets Act, 1923, in mid-August to conduct the trial through in-camera proceedings.

All hearings of the case have since been held in jail, with no media or public access to the proceedings.

Khan was arrested on Aug. 5 in a case related to not disclosing the proceeds earned through selling state gifts.

His sentence was suspended by the IHC on Aug.29 but before he was released, the special court had directed jail authorities to keep him in “judicial lockup” in the cipher case.

Khan’s party and lawyers have raised serious questions on the transparency of the jail trial.

They accuse the government and the powerful military establishment of trying to keep Khan out of the general elections scheduled to be held in February next year by sentencing him. EFE

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