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IHC notifies FIA after Imran requests open trial in cipher case

IHC notifies FIA after Imran requests open trial in cipher case.

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has sent a notice to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) following a petition by former Prime Minister Imran Khan challenging the closed-door trial in the cipher case held at Adiala Jail.

Imran Khan’s plea, filed recently, contests the trial’s secrecy and subsequent legal actions, including charges framing and media restrictions. The Special Court (Official Secrets Act) restarted the cipher trial at Adiala Jail, indicting Imran Khan and former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi again on December 13.

The cipher case revolves around a diplomatic document that the FIA alleges was not returned by Imran Khan. The trial commenced earlier at Adiala Jail, but the IHC declared the government’s decision for a jail trial as incorrect and nullified the proceedings.

Imran and Shah Mehmood Qureshi initially pleaded not guilty when indicted on October 23. Despite the IHC’s endorsement of Imran’s indictment, it urged the special court judge to ensure a fair trial.

In a detailed judgment issued on December 20, the IHC explained the rationale for scrapping the previous proceedings due to a lack of transparency, emphasizing the importance of open court proceedings for the judiciary’s independence.

Also Read: Imran Khan, as per PTI lawyers, intends to participate in elections from three different constituencies.

During the recent hearing, Imran’s counsel highlighted the prosecution’s singular allegation and the special court’s rejection of bail for Qureshi in the cipher case. He also pointed out the trial court’s directive for completing the trial in four weeks.

The court queried whether the stipulated four-week period for trial completion was indeed granted and sought clarification. Imran’s counsel emphasized the trial’s daily proceedings as directed by the IHC Chief Justice.

The judge further questioned the confidentiality of the indictment, to which Imran’s counsel mentioned the trial judge’s order to withhold case information and discussions.

Imran’s counsel requested a stay in the case during the hearing, but the court deferred a decision, summoning the attorney general for clarification on the “direction case” term mentioned in the trial court’s verdict. The court also issued a notice to the FIA for its response and adjourned the hearing till Friday.