Former premier Imran Khan and ex-foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi will be indicted in the cipher case again on December 12, the special court decided on Monday.
The case pertains to a diplomatic document that the Federal Investigation Agency’s charge sheet alleges was never returned by Imran. The PTI has long held that the document contained a threat from the United States to oust Imran as prime minister.
Imran and Qureshi, who is also behind bars, were first indicted in the case on Oct 23. Both had pleaded not guilty. The trial was being held at Adiala Jail and four witnesses had already recorded their statements, with the fifth being cross-examined when an Islamabad High Court division bench termed the government’s notification for a jail trial “erroneous” and scrapped the entire proceedings.
As a result of the judgement, the special court started a fresh trial. Last week, Special Court Judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain ruled that the trial proceedings would continue at the Adiala Jail but in an open court.
However, on Saturday, jail authorities prevented media people from entering the jail, with many local and international journalists outside when the hearing began. After the hearing ended, it came to light that three reporters from different TV channels were allowed to witness the proceedings, but that too after the hearing had ended and the prosecutors had already left the courtroom.
During the hearing, Qureshi had urged the special court to summon President Dr Arif Alvi so he could testify before the court whether he had assented to changes in the Official Secrets Act, 1923.
In August, President Alvi had denied approving changes to the Secrets Act — under which the cipher trial is being held — and the Pakistan Army Act while the law ministry had rebuked his statement and asked him to “take responsibility for his own actions”.
Today, Judge Zulqarnain resumed hearing the case at the Adiala Jail. Family members and lawyers of the incarcerated PTI leaders were in attendance along with special prosecutor Zulfikar Abbas Naqvi and Rizwan Abbasi.
Six members of the media were allowed to attend the proceedings.
During the hearing, Imran and Qureshi were provided with copies of the case record after their lawyers requested for the same.
The judge then adjourned the hearing till December 12 and said charges would be framed against the PTI leaders on the same day. The developments were confirmed by media persons who were allowed to attend the proceedings.