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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Pakistan’s Imran Khan denied court-ordered public trial – lawyer

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.

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.

Read more: Imran Khan Faces Rigorous NAB Interrogation in Multibillion Rupee Corruption Case

The Islamabad High Court 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.

The 71-year-old former cricket star 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.

Read more: Pakistan court orders jailed Imran Khan to appear in public trial

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 at the behest of the military to block him from the Feb. 8 general election.

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.