A special court declared on Tuesday that the trial proceedings of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the cipher case will be conducted at Adiala Jail.
Today, Judge Zulqarnain presided over the hearing at the FJC, where Barrister Salman Safdar appeared as Imran’s counsel while Advocate Ali Bukhari was present as Qureshi’s lawyer. FIA’s prosecutors Shah Khawar and Zulfikar Abbas Naqvi also appeared before the court.
This decision comes after Judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain emphasized the importance of security, prompting the trial to be held within jail premises.
The court previously ordered that the former prime minister and Shah Mahmood Qureshi be present at Islamabad’s Federal Judicial Complex (FJC) for today’s hearing.
However, Adiala jail authorities, citing “security risks” in their report, failed to produce Imran Khan, despite the court’s directives.
The initial orders for a jail trial were issued in the first hearing of the cipher case outside the Adiala jail following the Islamabad High Court’s decision to nullify the August 29 notification for a jail trial.
Judge Zulqarnain has been conducting the trial within the jail premises due to security concerns since Khan’s indictment last month.
Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi were booked under the Official Secrets Act 1923 in the cipher case in August.
The case revolves around a missing diplomatic cable allegedly containing a threat from the United States to topple the PTI government.
The court’s decision to hold the trial within Adiala Jail, in an open court setting, aims to ensure transparency and accessibility for those interested in the proceedings.
During the hearing, the jail authorities submitted their report to the court, which Judge Zulqarnain reviewed. The judge then said, “The jail officials are saying that he (Imran) cannot be presented.”
According to reports by intelligence agencies and the police, the PTI chairman faces threats to life, the report stated. It further said, “It has been informed that the PTI chairman faces security risks of a serious scale”.
The special court stated that those who wished to attend the court proceedings would not be stopped from doing so and that journalists would also be permitted to witness the case.
It further said that five family members of each suspect would also be allowed inside the courtroom. The hearing was adjourned till Dec 1 (Friday).
Both Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi were indicted in the cipher case on October 23, with the trial initially held at Adiala Jail.
However, the proceedings were deemed “erroneous” by an Islamabad High Court division bench, leading to the initiation of a fresh trial. The court’s decision to approve an open jail trial addresses concerns about transparency and legal protocols.