A special court here on Tuesday decided to hold the trial of incarcerated former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan in jail in the cipher case after authorities did not present him for a hearing held at a normal court, citing security concerns.
The 71-year-old Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party chief has been incarcerated at the high-security Adiala jail in Rawalpindi since September 26, where his in-prison trial had been going until last week when the Islamabad High Court (IHC) ruled against it while declaring the proceedings as vitiated.
Special Court Judge Abual Hasnat Zulqernain presided over the hearing on Tuesday at the Federal Judicial Complex (FJC) in Islamabad. Khan was not presented by authorities due to security reasons.
Last week, the judge ordered authorities to present Khan and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi at the Federal Judicial Complex for the hearing of the case.
Qureshi, 67, was also arrested in the cipher (secret diplomatic cable) case and is imprisoned in the Adiala jail. Khan and Qureshi have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
“It has been informed that the PTI chairman faces security risks of a serious scale,” a report presented in the court by authorities said.
After hearing the case, the special court approved the duo's jail trial in an open-court format at the next hearing.
In its order, the court also noted that the jail authorities and security agencies had expressed their reservations about holding the trial at the FJC.
It 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 also said that five family members of each suspect would also be allowed inside the courtroom.
Later, the hearing was adjourned till December 1.
The cipher case was launched in August this year after a case was filed against Khan for allegedly violating the Official Secrets Act by disclosing a secret diplomatic cable - called the cipher - sent by the country's embassy in Washington in March last year.
The diplomatic cable reportedly went missing from Khan's possession.
Khan and Qureshi, who had claimed that the cable contained a threat from the United States to topple the PTI’s government, were indicted on October 23.
Khan was ousted through a vote of no-confidence in April 2022. More than 150 cases have been registered against him since his ouster from power.
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