Court ordered public trial for Imran Khan; media allowed to attend

cipher case

ISLAMABAD: Jailed former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was denied an open court trial on Monday as ordered by a high court after the government submitted reports citing threats to his life, his lawyer said.

The court hearing the case later said Khan’s trial on the charge of leaking state secrets will be held in jail premises but will be open to media and the public, the lawyer said.

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) had ruled last week that holding Khan’s trial inside jail premises on security concerns was illegal, and ordered it restarted in an open court. Khan has denied the charges against him.

Imran’s no-show in cipher case hearing; security reasons cited

The 71-year-old cricketer turned politician has been embroiled in a tangle of political and legal battles since he was ousted as prime minister. He has not been seen in public since he was jailed for three years in August for unlawfully selling state gifts while in office from 2018 to 2022.

Khan had been appearing in courts prior to his August arrest protected by his personal security guards. But he has also sought exemptions from personal appearances, often citing threats to his safety.

“Jail reports have been submitted citing that Imran Khan has life threats according to various intelligence and police reports,” said the lawyer, Naeem Panjutha, in a post on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

A special court has been conducting the trial in prison since Khan was indicted on the charges last month. The charges against Khan relate to a classified cable sent to Islamabad by Pakistan’s ambassador in the United States last year, which Khan is accused of making public.

The graft conviction has put a five-year bar on Khan to contest elections. He denies any wrongdoing and has said all the charges against him, including the graft case and the leak of the cable, were cooked up to block him from the February 8 general election.

Meanwhile, his counsel Shah Khawar has questioned the authority the Adiala jail officials to refuse court’s explicit orders to present Imran Khan in court.

The military has dismissed Khan’s allegations. The election is shaping as a fight between Khan’s party and that of another ousted former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif. Both leaders had fallen out with the military, which has ruled directly or overseen civilian governments since Pakistan’s creation in 1947.

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