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    Khan’s Trial: Open Court Decision Amidst Security Concerns

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    In a pivotal development in the ongoing legal saga involving Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, Special Court Judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain has ruled that the trial proceedings will continue at Adiala Jail but in an open court due to “serious security risks.” The judge’s decision comes after Adiala jail authorities failed to present the former premier before the special court at Islamabad’s Federal Judicial Complex (FJC) on the judge’s earlier directives.

    The cipher case, which revolves around a diplomatic document allegedly never returned by Imran Khan, has been a focal point of contention between the PTI and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). The charge sheet claims that the document contained a threat from the United States to oust Imran as prime minister. Imran Khan and his aide Shah Mahmood Qureshi, both indicted on October 23, maintain their innocence.

    The trial had initially been underway at Adiala Jail, with four witnesses recording their statements. However, a recent Islamabad High Court division bench declared the government’s notification for the jail trial as “erroneous,” leading to the annulment of the entire proceedings. Consequently, the special court is set to commence a fresh trial, and the prosecution must file a new application for a jail trial.

    During the latest hearing at the Federal Judicial Complex, Barrister Salman Safdar represented Imran Khan, while Advocate Ali Bukhari appeared as Qureshi’s lawyer. The FIA’s prosecutors, Shah Khawar and Zulfikar Abbas Naqvi were also present. The judge reviewed a report submitted by the jail authorities, citing intelligence agency and police reports highlighting life threats to Imran Khan.

    Safdar requested an indefinite adjournment, urging the court to grant bail to his client due to security risks. Bukhari, representing Qureshi, appealed for directives to present his client before the court. After deliberation, the special court approved the jail trial but insisted it would be conducted in an open court setting. The next hearing is scheduled for December.

    The court emphasized that those interested in attending the proceedings, including journalists and five family members of each suspect, would be allowed inside the courtroom at Adiala Jail. Despite the court’s decision, Imran’s sister Aleema Khanum, and Qureshi’s daughter Meher Bano Qureshi expressed disappointment that the PTI leaders were not brought to court. They questioned the security concerns, comparing the situation to the public appearances of the president and prime minister.

    The hearing revealed a tussle between the court and the jail authorities, with Safdar highlighting the violation of court orders and the nullification of the earlier jail trial by the Islamabad High Court. Bukhari argued that it was the court’s responsibility to ensure the suspects’ production and requested directives for Qureshi’s presentation.

    As the legal drama unfolds, questions arise about the motivations behind conducting the trial in jail and the perceived reluctance to bring the suspects to court. The public and media interest in the case remains high, with concerns about potential legal proceedings delays.

    In a statement outside the court, Imran’s sister and Qureshi’s daughter called on the media to be present at the next hearing, expressing skepticism about the reasons for not presenting the PTI leaders in court. The unfolding events underscore the complex and contentious nature of the trial, leaving many unanswered questions about the future proceedings.

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