Imran Khan’s trial in prison will be open to public, Pakistan court rules

Journalists and supporters of the former cricket star will be allowed to attend

Authorities say it is too dangerous for Pakistan's former prime minister Imran Khan to appear in a normal court. Reuters
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A court in Pakistan has ordered a public trial to take place in prison for former prime minister Imran Khan, who faces charges of revealing official secrets, his lawyer said on Tuesday.

The ex-cricket star is in jail on a corruption charge and faces more cases against him.

The ruling will allow journalists and Mr Khan's supporters to attend the trial, which will be held in prison because authorities say it is too dangerous for him to appear in a regular courtroom.

The trial will determine whether Mr Khan breached official secrets acts by waving around a confidential diplomatic letter after his ousting through a no-confidence vote in parliament in April 2022.

Mr Khan's lawyer Naeem Haider Panjutha said he was seeking a trial in a regular court, on the directions of the former premier.

Last week, another court ordered the case to be heard in a regular court, but Judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain said the proceedings would continue at Adiyala Prison, in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.

The former prime minister has not appeared in public since August, when he was sentenced to three years for corruption.

Though the Islamabad High Court subsequently suspended that sentence, he remained in custody on charges of revealing official secrets.

Mr Khan was indicted for allegedly revealing a secret document. Legal experts say the charges carry a possible death sentence.

His close aide, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who was deputy in his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, is a co-defendant in the case. Both men have denied the charges.

Imran Khan's supporters take to the streets after he is moved to high-security jail

Imran Khan's supporters take to the streets after he is moved to high-security jail

The document – dubbed Cipher – has not been made public by either the government or Khan’s lawyers but was apparently diplomatic correspondence between the Pakistani ambassador to Washington and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad.

Mr Khan has repeatedly insisted that the document was proof that his ousting was a US conspiracy, allegedly executed by the military and his political opponents, including his successor Shehbaz Sharif. The US, Pakistan’s military and Mr Sharif have denied the claim.

Mr Khan's lawyers are now fighting a legal battle to get bail for him ahead of Pakistan's February 8 parliamentary elections. According to analysts, Tehreek-e-Insaf could still win the most seats, but he is not eligible to run for parliament due to his conviction.

Updated: November 28, 2023, 11:03 AM