Pakistan’s caretaker government has approved the jail trial of the country’s ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan in multiple cases, a legal officer said on Tuesday.
The move came hours before the Islamabad High Court halted Khan’s jail trial in a case that accuses him of exposing state secrets, till further orders, a court record and his lawyer said.
A two-judge bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) passed the order after the caretaker Cabinet approved Khan’s jail trial in the “cipher case” in which Khan is already being tried in a jail in the northeastern garrison city of Rawalpindi, as well as in another two cases known as Toshakhana, and Al-Qadir Trust cases.
The cipher case is related to diplomatic communications between Washington and Islamabad, which the jailed ex-premier says was part of a US conspiracy to topple his government.
Attorney General Mansoor Awan informed the court about the caretaker Cabinet’s approval of Khan’s jail trial, prompting the court to question the “extraordinary circumstances” that led to the trial being conducted in jail.
The court said it would “scrutinize” the Cabinet’s notification.
Khan, who has already been languishing in jail for the last several months on remand in the cipher case, was formally arrested on Monday by the country’s anti-corruption watchdog after an anti-corruption court issued an arrest warrant for the ex-premier in the Toshakhana and Al-Qadir Trust cases.
The Law Ministry on Tuesday issued a notification allowing Khan’s jail trial in all three cases.
The Toshakhana and Al-Qadir Trust cases accuse him of illegally purchasing and selling state gifts as premier and receiving billions of rupees and a large piece of costly land from a property tycoon in 2020 to build an educational institution, respectively.
Jail trial is ‘illegal’
Khan and former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi were indicted in the cipher case last month. The two pleaded not guilty.
Shoaib Shaheen, a counsel for the ex-premier, termed his client’s jail trial “illegal.”
“The Attorney General himself informed the (Islamabad) High Court that the Cabinet has approved Khan’s jail trial in cipher case on Monday. That means, all the previous proceedings of this case held in jail were without any Cabinet approval,” Shaheen told Anadolu.
Khan, who served as prime minister of Pakistan from 2018-2022, lost a vote of confidence in parliament last April, one year short of completing his term.
In August, he was sentenced by a trial court in Islamabad for concealing details and unlawfully selling state gifts he received as the prime minister and consequently was barred from holding public office for five years by the country’s Election Commission.
The Islamabad High Court, however, suspended his sentence and ordered his release weeks later.
Source : AA