Crime & Justice

Tense calm in Pakistan as Imran Khan’s lawyers prevented from meeting him

Islamabad, Aug. 6 (EFE).- Lawyers of former Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan were denied access to meet their client in jail on Sunday, a day after the leader was sentenced to three years in prison on corruption charges, amid allegations that the leader was being denied the right to a fair trial.

The country remain largely calm after protests were reported on Friday evening following a video appeal issued by Khan before his arrest.

“Imran Khan’s legal team has been denied access to meet him at Attock jail as of now,” Ahmed Janjua, a spokesman for Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, told EFE.

He said the authorities have asked the legal team to return on Monday, which could cause a delay in getting Khan’s signature on documents that are are required to be produced at appeal courts.

Naeem Haider Panjutha, the former PM’s spokesperson on legal affairs, also said they reached out to jail authorities and the home department of the state of Punjab – where the leader was arrested – requesting a meeting with Khan which was not granted.

“We have told both of them that we need to get the power of attorney and other documents signed by Mr. Khan since we have to move various applications and challenge different (court) orders,” Panjutha said in a short video message released late Saturday.

Khan’s legal team aims to challenge his Saturday conviction in the Islamabad High Court.

Panjutha said they were concerned about his well-being and wanted to provide him with clothes, food, and other necessary items.

On Saturday, a trial court in Pakistan’s federal capital, Islamabad, sentenced Khan for three years in jail, a decision which also disqualifies him from running for public office for five years.

Following the verdict, the former premier was arrested by police from his Lahore residence and was taken amid tight security to a prison in Attock, some 85 kms southwest of Islamabad.

The PTI alleged a conspiracy behind its leader’s arrest and conviction, and pointed out what it said were loopholes in the judicial process leading to the verdict and how the arrest took place within minutes of the decision being announced, without a written order.

Zulfi Bokhari, one of Khan’s close aides, shared a video message saying it was a shame for the country and its judiciary that the former premier’s legal team was not given an opportunity to present its arguments in the case.

He alleged that Khan and his staff members were roughed up during the arrest.

“They grabbed him, manhandled him, and threw him in a car,” Bokhari said.

However, the government has denied that the case against Khan was politically motivated.

Meanwhile Janjua said that no protests had been planned on Sunday because several PTI workers were picked up by the police while protesting on Saturday, adding that future protests would be held randomly to avoid mass arrests.

This is the first conviction against the former PM, who has faced dozens of cases in the past year since he was ousted in a vote of no confidence.

Specifically, Khan is accused of failing to declare gifts by not transferring them to a Pakistani government repository where items given to government officials by foreign dignitaries are stored.

The process began in October, when the Election Commission found Khan guilty of not declaring the proceeds from the sale of state gifts he had received as prime minister from 2018 to 2022 and requested criminal proceedings against the former PM.

Pakistan plans to hold elections later this year, after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday announced he would dissolve parliament on August 9, triggering a 90-day deadline for the polls.EFE

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