ISLAMABAD: A special court established under the Official Secrets Act on Tuesday handed both former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan and ex-foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi 10 years in jail in the cipher case. The cipher case pertains to a diplomatic document that the Federal Investigation Agency’s charge sheet alleges was never returned by Imran.
PTI founder Imran Khan & Shah Mehmood Qureshi have been given 10-year prison sentences in the Cipher case, reports Pakistan media.
The PTI has long held that the document contained a threat from the United States to oust Imran as prime minister. The verdict comes a little over a week to go before the February 8 general elections, which the PTI is contesting amid a state crackdown on the party and without an electoral symbol.
In December, the Supreme Court approved the post-arrest bails of Imran and Qureshi. While Imran remained incarcerated in other cases, Qureshi’s expected release was also stalled as he was manhandled and re-arrested in a fresh May 9 case.
Days later, Justice Miangul Hasan Aurangzeb had restrained the special court from proceeding against the suspects — including Qureshi — till Jan 11, noting that there were “legal errors” in the case.
The special court had begun the Cipher trial afresh last month at the Adiala district jail after Imran and Qureshi were indicted for a second time in the case on December 13. The former premier and Qureshi, who is also behind bars, were first indicted in the case in October. Both had pleaded not guilty. The IHC had termed the government’s notification for a jail trial “erroneous” and scrapped the entire proceedings.
Last week, state defence counsels had been appointed due to the previously appointed ones who had agreed to conduct cross-examinations not appearing in the next two court hearings. Imran had said the trial was nothing less than a “joke” because the prosecution and defence team both belonged to the government.
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